The Pearls of Great Price

Posted by Thaddaeus

Matthew 13: 44-46


Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  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.”


Background:  Throughout the parabolic discourses, Jesus is speaking with the Pharisees and His twelve disciples.  The Twelve always refers to the government of the Church.  In as much as the Twelve are representative of all who believe, they are distinguished from the other disciples in respect to the formation of the Church.  They are the leaders, the teachers, much like the “scribes” of Israel.  Remember, Matthew writes for a mostly Jewish-Christian audience in terms a first century Israelite would understand.  The scribes were a special group among the Jewish leaders.  They are learned in the Law of Moses.  They are distinguished teachers of the Israelite people.  The people look to the scribes to settle differences about questions of the Law.  Jesus finds them harmful because they get caught up in the letter of the Law; rather than the spirit of the law.  The reason people find Jesus’ teaching so uplifting.


The Pearls of Great Price:  One pearl is said to be the Law and the Prophets, but there is something greater than these.  The most precious of all is the knowledge of Jesus and of our salvation through the sacrament of his passion and resurrection.  To know, love and serve God in this world.  The gift of ourselves.  This is the reason God created us.  When a man discovers the kingdom of heaven, he cannot enter unless he readily leaves all the possessions he has loved on earth behind because the splendor of the knowledge of God is alone seen in his mind.  Because by comparison all other pearls are worthless.  By this we see that faith alone is not sufficient for us to enter the kingdom of heaven.  We have to be willing to give our detached and watchful selves like the merchant in order to be a disciple.  Indeed, this involves complete trust for he tells us there is nothing we need that God cannot provide.