Passion Pearls

by Orlando Hernandez

This Wednesday’s Gospel ( Mt 13: 44-46 ) again presents the parables of The Treasure in the Field and  The Pearl of Great Price. I am especially haunted by that mysterious pearl. Our Lord says:

“ Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. “

I recognize the shining presence of that treasure, that fine pearl within my heart. It is Him! It is His gift of Himself. But I am also attracted to the interpretation that says that God is the merchant who buys the pearl. The pearl is you, and me, and all humanity, bought for a “ great price “, gained by the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, now lovingly held in the Father’s hand.

A pearl is actually the product of suffering and death. Maybe you remember from grade school science the story of the oyster. A grain of sand or a little rock gets inside the shell.  It irritates and torments the delicate animal inside. The animal responds by covering the painful thing with a substance called nacre, and slowly forms a little pearl. But the more the pearl grows the more it hurts the poor oyster, so it keeps on coating it with more and more of this substance, in turn causing it more suffering. The only relief happens when the oyster is caught and cut open. It loses its life, and here is this beautiful, wonderful pearl… the result of so much pain. This is a sort of Passion story and reminds me of what He has done for me. His suffering and death has given birth to our new shining selves. Thank you Beloved!

Here is another story. Perhaps you know it. It is based on a meditation by C. S. Lewis. He writes : “ In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.”

In Lewis’s story the King of Kings stands at the edge of an abyss looking down at the troubled seas below. He discards His Divine robes, stands there naked with open arms and jumps into death, and dives into the roiling waves, “ then gone with a splash, vanished, rushing down through green and warm water into black and cold water, down through increasing pressure into the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay; then up again, back to color and light, His lungs almost bursting, till suddenly He breaks surface again, holding in His hand the dripping precious thing that He went down to recover.”

In my prayer, this precious thing is that costly pearl, so beloved by Him, humanity, or even a lovely blue-white sphere, our world, saved and restored by His Love.  May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our minds!

Orlando Hernandez

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