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God’s pearl of great price: Jubilee homily July 29, 2021

by Clevie Youngblood, RSHMCategory: Updates

Have you ever wondered why the person of the Gospel (Mt 13:44-46) was in the field — out for a walk, taking a short cut to home, perhaps enjoying nature, or maybe actually looking for treasure? Or did you ever wonder what kind of field it was — one filled with crops, or lying fallow, or was it totally uncultivated — with rocks and thorns? And the pearl — what made it so valuable? How different was it from other pearls?

Usually we read these parables as examples of how we are to live, prioritizing God’s message of love over everything, letting go of all to gain it. But what if we were to read the parables in another way – with God as the person who finds the treasure and the merchant who seeks the pearl?

These two parables are part of the Parable Discourse in Matthew’s Gospel. The preceding parables are the Sower and the Seed and the Weeds among the Wheat. Each of these parables suggests that God is the sower and the field owner. So what if God is also the person who finds the treasure and the merchant who seeks the pearl? Then the field becomes God’s kingdom, the treasure and the pearl are God’s people, that means you and me.

We are God’s treasure; we are God’s pearl of great price. How incredible to know we are so loved!

God finds where we are hidden. God knows our rocks and thorns but continues to work the field, to work in us, with us, and through us. God continues to dig into the ground of our being to help us see who we can be, giving us another chance to be a treasure of the kingdom. God, the merchant, continues to search for us when we fall by the way, valuing each one of us dearly. How amazing but how humbling it is to know we are God’s priority. To know we are so treasured and valued, the Letter to the Ephesians (3:18-19) reminds us, is to know “with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, … of the love of Christ…, so that (we) may be filled with the fullness of God.”

Now the question becomes — how are we to be the treasure, the pearl, God asks us to be? We need only look to Mary, mother of Jesus, first of the disciples, whose heart was always full of grace. Luke’s Gospel tells us she treasured all of her experiences of God, from the call to mother Jesus, to acknowledging she did not fully understand all that was required of her, to being the most faithful follower, who stood at the cross, and became the mother of his Spirit-filled community. She is our model of wonder, faith, compassion, and selflessness, who teaches us how to know and love God. And knowing and loving God is how to be the treasure of the field and the pearl of great price.

We are part of this field where there are “more living organisms in a tablespoon of soil than there are people on the earth” (RSHM at the UN #116). Imagine that diversity.

As we celebrate 24 of those living organisms today, let us remember the diversity of gifts each Jubilarian has brought to nurture the field, God’s kingdom. The reading from Romans (12:4-8) mentioned the gifts of prophecy, service, encouragement, giving, leading, showing mercy. These are only some of the gifts shared by our Jubilarians. Think of the countless students touched by our educators, the many patients and parishioners served by our pastoral ministers, the communities served by our missionaries, the clients guided by our lawyer, and all of those enlightened by our artists. The knowledge and love of God have been made known wherever our Jubilarians have ministered across the Institute. God’s message has been spoken and lived faithfully, diligently, and cheerfully.

As the youngest Jubilarian, I am awed by these RSHM, these strings of pearls, whose gifts have been a blessing to us all. You have taught us that lives rooted and grounded in God’s love produce the fertile soil that brings about God’s kingdom. Today, we thank God for unearthing the treasures that you are.

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