In the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye and his wife Golda have five daughters. It’s time for their oldest daughter to get married. In those days the parents would ask the matchmaker to find husbands for their daughters. The right man is out there somewhere. All the matchmaker has to do is find him. So Tevye’s daughters sing: “Matchmaker, matchmaker, find me a find, catch me a catch.”
In today’s Gospel (Matt 13:44-52) the merchant finds him a find – a pearl of great price. And where can you and I find us a find? Right under our noses. Right in our own families….God made us pearls. And when we live our faith, when we show our love, when we follow Jesus, WE are pearls of great value.
We start with our children….Parents with little children feel everyday what I feel when I visit a family I am close to. Their little four-year old daughter can’t wait to hug and kiss me, plop herself down and have me read story after story to her. In their freshness, their energy, their sense of wonder, and their spontaneous love for Jesus – our children are pearls of great price.
Our teenagers are precious pearls of delight. You parents watch your daughter score the winning goal in a soccer game and your son lead the marching band on the field. God looks on our teenagers and God smiles. God sees them as they begin to discover who they are as they take their first steps in using their God-given talents. God delights in their accomplishments, parents applaud and classmates cheer.
Of course, parents are no less pearls of great price who change diapers, make mortgage payments, chauffeur kids and sit up late to see their children get home safely. Parents bring their children to church each weekend again when the pandemic is over. Moms and Dads live a sacrificial love for their children.
As children get older, they realize more and more the pearls their parents are. A worried, pregnant mother calls her Mom and they talk. They are scared and also filled with joy. Mom comes over and places her hands on her daughter’s stomach and they pray together. A moment of mother-daughter intimacy. The daughter fully knows that her mother is and always has been a pearl of great price.
In their elder years, grandparents shine. A visit to grandma brings the smell of freshly baked bread and cookies. In our faith community, the deep faith of grandfathers and grandmothers touches our souls. They have a faith tested by a lifetime of shared struggles. They have a love of God and a love of each other which is the firm foundation of their married life.
Look at any age and we recognize the precious pearls God made us to be when we show love and compassion and when we act with great faith. We are sparkling gems, treasures and so very special in the eyes of God. As the Parable continues, the merchant sells all that he has and buys the pearl. That’s what God did for us. The plain truth is – We are the pearls of great price. To buy us pearls, Jesus had to die on the cross.
We read in Genesis that God created us in his own image. What greater honor could God have given us? This is why we call a newborn baby a “bundle of joy!” We are all “chips off the Old Block!” We are all pearls of great value to God.
But what good is a pearl if we go broke buying it? When the merchant sold all he had, he had no money left to buy food or pay the mortgage. The merchant now has to sell the pearl to have money for the necessities of life. There is a lesson here for us to learn. God wants us to give our all, to sacrifice to find the pearl of great price – which is God’s Kingdom, here on earth.
Every person is a gem, created and loved by God and called by Jesus to give all that we are able to give to build God’s Kingdom here on earth – one of peace, justice, harmony and love in our families, our city, our country and our world. We are pearls, no doubt about it, apples of God’s eye.
The Big Question is: As a pearl, do we keep ourselves locked in a safe deposit box, never to be seen or used. Have we truly sparkled the way God intended our lives to sparkle?
Last year, when the fires were burning so wildly in California, an online survey asked: “If you had only 5 minutes to leave your home, what would you take with you?” One woman wrote: “My husband….I think.” Others mentioned pets, computers, cell phones and CD collection. One person wrote: “My tax records because the IRS doesn’t care about fires.”
Of course, you know what the most common thing that was mentioned: photo albums and family pictures….those pieces of the past to remind us of those we love, along with the memories of places and times we spent with them.
But while you can seize certain moments on celluloid, you can’t possess or control what matters the most – the people who are in those pictures. Nor can you control the relationship you have with them. They are a gift, a pearl of great value.
How cool it is that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too!
Who are the pearls of great price in your life who you never thought would become precious and priceless to you?