Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


17th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
July 27th, 2014
Year A

I’m sure that many of us have read or are at least familiar with John Steinbeck’s novel, The Pearl. It is quite an interesting story that centers on a pearl of great price. Kino, a husband and father, finds his child stung by a scorpion but because he is poor, cannot pay the doctor to have him treated. Just when he thought he was out of luck, he finds a giant pearl worth a large sum of money. It would have provided plenty to pay the doctor. After Kino finds the pearl, however, he also found nothing but trouble – arguments with his wife, crooks looking to swindle him into a bad deal, trackers who want to kill him – and the family for it. Yet, it is still a once in a-lifetime, life-altering find. Even though he faces much danger, he is still willing to risk his life, and his families, to help his son. In the end – sorry, spoiler alert – when his son is shot and killed by a stray bullet… Kino throws the pearl back into the sea. At this point, it has no value to him.

There are some similarities to Steinbeck’s pearl and the one that Jesus speaks of in the Gospel today. Like Kino, in both parables, the one who finds the buried treasure, the one who finds the pearl of great price, also recognizes a one in a-lifetime opportunity to change one’s life. This person also needs to make great sacrifices in order to do it – to obtain the treasure. The difference is this that Kino didn’t care about the pearl, only about his son. Had his not been ill, he probably would have just sold it, gotten an awful deal, and moved on with his life. In contrast, Jesus’ pearl is the greatest thing a person could ever possess, the greatest gift any could ever be given because the Kingdom of God is presented as something of enormous value.

There are a lot of Kino’s in the world today who, at one time in their life, have found Jesus’ pearl but it doesn’t mean that much to them. They don’t understand or grasp its worth. Therefore, they are willing to throw it away because they don’t care. They just don’t care. These are the countless, baptized Catholics, who have left the Church not over a doctrinal issue – not because of birth control or same-sex marriage or abortion – no, they have left because they are indifferent, they don’t care.

Jesus’ message is pretty clear: the Kingdom of God is something of great value that is worth giving up everything to obtain. In this sense, another meaning emerges: the urgency of responding to the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Thus, the Kingdom of God is THE ultimate treasure that completely alters the priorities of a person’s life. Things that were at one point, considered the most important, now no longer carry as much weight in light of the wealth of the Kingdom. A person who experiences such a metanoia will joyfully abandon everything in order that he or she may fully possess this fine treasure.

So, how do we, as a believing community, bring the Kino’s of the world – many we perhaps already know and to whom we are related – to understand the value of the kingdom and get them to respond to the joy of the good news? There are perhaps several answers to this question. It seems to me, though, that there is a primacy of encounter. The Kino’s of the world today have not truthfully encountered the person of Jesus Christ. As such, how could they possibly know of His love, His worth, or of His Kingdom? We, however, do encounter Him. We do so each day in the Holy Eucharist. There is no greater experience of encounter than here, at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where Jesus Himself is truly present to us. We know of the value of kingdom – otherwise, we would most likely not be here today. But, have we made the connection between the encounter with the Risen Lord that we experience at Mass and in our daily lives? Because, moved by this divine meeting, we are sent out to the world to be vehicles of encounter to others. If we are not making this connection then we would be hard-pressed to help others find the pearl of great price as well. Thus, there is an urgency of fostering a harmony in our lives between our worship and daily living AND the proclamation of the kingdom – we are called to be missionaries for the Kingdom. In this sense then, we must ask ourselves: is the Kingdom worth it all for me personally? Have I been able to grasp and understand the full measure of its value – the priceless gift of eternal life and communion with God? If we are able to make this connection, if we truly do know the value of the Kingdom, then, this is, I believe, the way in which we respond to finding the “pearl of great price” – by sharing with others the joy of this encounter, by helping them too, find the treasure of the Kingdom. We do not hide the pearl, we do not run from others, we share it and show them its true worth. It is with attitude we can say with the psalmist: “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Ps 119).





Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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