Just back from some holidays in Halifax. It is certainly a precious gift to be able to spend time with family and I am very grateful for the opportunity.
Not long after I returned I found Edmonton in the grip of a frenzy of excitement. Minds, hearts and imaginations were gripped by a phenomenon called “the 50/50 draw”. It was to take place at a football match between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Calgary Stampeders. Normally this long-time rivalry would be enough to bring in the crowds. The real attraction this time, though, was the chance to win approximately $350,000.00. From media reports it seems there were almost as many people in the ticket lineups as in the stands. A lot of money was handed over in the chance to win this prize, and it was talked about for days afterward.
Would that we were as enthusiastic about a far more important prize! It is not limited to one winner but available to all. Its reward is not transitory but eternal. The “prize” is that spoken of by Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel, namely, the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 13: 44-52).
Our Lord speaks of this as the “pearl of great price”. He tells in the parable about one who finds it and, in order to purchase it, sells everything he has. He likewise in an adjacent parable speaks of the kingdom as a treasure hidden in a field. The one who finds it sells all that he has in order to purchase the field and the treasure therein. Football fans spent a few dollars in order to attain a substantial sum, but their lives were not likely changed much by what they sacrificed. The Lord is teaching, however, that the “prize” he makes available to us is so precious that, once we have found it, we are willing to give “all that we possess”, i.e., give all that we are, undergo a radical change in our lives, so that this “prize” is ours forever.
The kingdom of heaven has broken into our world in the very person of Jesus Christ. In him the full revelation of God’s love and the perfect human response of loving obedience meet. To encounter Christ and to be drawn into a living union with him by the working of the Holy Spirit is to participate, even now, though imperfectly, in the kingdom of heaven. This encounter with our Lord awakens us to the truth that there is nothing more precious than a life lived in union with him. Jesus is the pearl of great price, the unparalleled treasure. Let us not hesitate to give our all in order to enter fully into this wondrous mystery. We will, in truth, lose nothing of import and gain everything that really matters!