The Gospel of Matthew for this Sunday is speaking of a treasure buried in the field, a pearl of great price, and a dragnet full of fish; all things hidden and mysterious; as is the Kingdom of God.
The mystery and inner quality of the interior life is a lifetime search for those who seek the spiritual life. Talking to God; thinking about God; singing to God; are all interior processes of the secret life of the human heart and soul. Invisible to the outside world, daily meditation is a quiet, secret conversation with God and about the mysteries of the divine life of the Spirit within the soul. Then after many years of practice, at a certain point it dawns on us that we have found the pearl of great price!
How so?? Let’s consider how a pearl is made. Oysters as we know make pearls in response to an irritant, such as a grain of sand. When any irritant makes its way between the mollusk’s shell and mantle, the creature produces nacre, a protective coating that helps reduce irritation. Nacre is also referred to as mother-of-pearl; layers of nacre coat the irritant, eventually forming an iridescent gem (the pearl!). How long does it take to develop? Some about six months and, larger, up to four years to develop.
The irritant to the mollusk may be compared to what Jung calls the dark side of the human psyche. The nacre could be thought of as the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit forming a protective “coat” around the soul. Each time through the reception of the sacramental grace of Eucharist and Penance, this nacre (grace) keeps growing layer after layer to produce a beautiful gem at the end of our earthly journey. The Divine working within the soul to produce a pearl of great beauty visible only to the Creator! So iridescent and reflective of the image of the Divine! After all, have we not been taught that we are created in the image of God as a child?
I found it fascinating that this parable appears only in the one Canonical Gospel of the New Testament; that of the Gospel of Matthew. And this Gospel was the favorite of our Father Saint Dominic! How unique is this!
So let us look into the hidden secret thing in life; all these wonder-filled “sightings” of the presence of God in the human face of relationships, in the gifts of our Mother Earth; and as the poet, Petrarca says, the presence of God is found “in the eyes of a child and in the morning dew upon a rose.” Let’s enter the hidden life of the Pearl with the inspiration of Emily Dickinson:
The soul selects her own society
Then shuts the door
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more!