Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Pearl of Great Price

Some excerpts from my homily for today:

Matthew 13:44-52

The history of our church is filled with people who, upon encountering Christ, and coming to have faith in Him, gave up all they had, sold all of their possessions in order to posess Him, the Pearl of Great Price. These are people who made spectacular sacrifices, like St. Matthew or St. Francis of Assisi.

So our Lord poses a challenge for us in His parable today: what is our Pearl of Great Price? Is Our Lord and his Kingdom truly the great treasure for which we would give up, forsake, all else? How many of us would be willing to give up all that we have in order to follow Christ?

But you know, before we can take up such spectacular sacrifices we have to start small, start with more manageable ones and "work our way up". So let's start with something a little more modest: How many of us are willing to forego the newer, bigger, faster car, and keep driving our "old" car for another year or two? How many of us are willing to skip going out for dinner this weekend, and give the money we would have spent to a homeless shelter? Or, to make it a little smaller, how many of us are willing to give up an evening sitting in front of the TV drinking a beer, in order to go visit an elderly person in a nursing home, who's lonely and in need of companionship?

Or, to make it even a little more manageable, how many of us are willing to make small, everyday choices for God, and denying ourselves? We show what we really believe our Pearl of Great Price is by countless small acts: For example, and I recognize I'm mostly addressing the men here: How many of you have ever skipped Mass on Sunday because you've got a 9:00 tee time, and you really want to get out on the course with the guys? What are you making your Pearl of Great Price then? Or how many of you have ever left Mass early because you want to get back home in time to catch the kickoff? Aren't you saying, at that moment, that the game is your Pearl of Great Price?

These are small things, no doubt about it. Insignificant, you might be tempted to say. But each of our individual paths to redemption or perdition is made up of small choices like those I mentioned. Like a cobblestone road, our journeys to heaven or hell will be made up of countless choices, where we say either Yes or No to God in seemingly insignificant ways. But if we cannot learn to say Yes to Christ, to make Him our Pearl of Great Price in small things, how can we think we'll be able to do so in the big things?

Make no mistake, if there is nothing else I want people to understand, it is this: God does not want just some of your time, an hour or two on Sunday, and few minutes here and there duirng the week. God does not want part of your life: this bit here or there. God does not want some of your talent or treasure. He wants nothing less than all of you! He will not rest until He posesses you completely. He wants all of you because he doesn't want just part of you, this bit her, or that bit there, to be redeemed. He wants all of you to be redeemed, and dwell with Him, truly whole and entire, for eternity.

But if we are to belong God, whole and entire, we must give Him ourselves, all that we are, all that we have. He must be our Pearl of Great Price, for which we are willing to sacrifice all else. If God is to completely posess us, we must desire nothing better than to posess Him, and Him alone.