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Word of Life July 2010 Word of Life July 2010

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Mt 13, 45 -46).

In this very brief parable Jesus caught the imagination of his listeners. Everyone realised In this very brief parable Jesus caught the imagination of his listeners. Everyone realised the value of pearls. Together with gold, they were the most precious goods known at that time.

In addition, the Scriptures spoke of wisdom, that is, of the knowledge of God, In addition, the Scriptures spoke of wisdom, that is, of the knowledge of God, as something that could not be likened ‘to any priceless gem’.

But what stands out in the parable is how strange, surprising and unexpected it But what stands out in the parable is how strange, surprising and unexpected it would have been for the merchant to come across a pearl. Perhaps it was in a bazaar and only an expert eye could tell its enormous value and the huge profit to be made from it.

This is why, when everything had been weighed up, it was worth selling all This is why, when everything had been weighed up, it was worth selling all to buy the pearl. And who would not have done the same thing?

So the profound meaning of the parable is this: the meeting with Jesus (that So the profound meaning of the parable is this: the meeting with Jesus (that is, with the kingdom of God among us – this is the pearl!) is a unique opportunity. We must seize it while we can, giving all our energies and all we possess.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Mt 13, 45 -46).

This was not the first time the disciples had found themselves facing a radical This was not the first time the disciples had found themselves facing a radical demand – they must leave everything in order to follow Jesus: everything most precious to them, like family affections, financial security, certainty for the future.

But Jesus’ demands are not pointless or absurd. In place of ‘everything’ lost there But Jesus’ demands are not pointless or absurd. In place of ‘everything’ lost there is an ‘everything’ found, which is inestimably more precious. Each time Jesus asks something he promises to give much, much more, a superabundance.

So in this parable he assures us of a treasure that will make us So in this parable he assures us of a treasure that will make us rich forever. And if it may seem a mistake to leave what is certain for what is uncertain, what is sure for a mere promise, let’s think of that merchant. He knows that the pearl is extremely precious and he waits confidently for what its sale will bring.

Likewise, whoever wants to follow Jesus knows and sees, with the eyes of faith, Likewise, whoever wants to follow Jesus knows and sees, with the eyes of faith, what an immense gain it is to share with him the inheritance of the kingdom as a result of having left everything, at least in a spiritual sense.

God offers everyone a chance like this in life so they can grasp it. God offers everyone a chance like this in life so they can grasp it.

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Mt 13, 45 -46).

This is a practical invitation to put aside all the idols that could take This is a practical invitation to put aside all the idols that could take God’s place in our hearts: a career, marriage, studies, a beautiful house, our profession, sport, entertainment.

It is an invitation to put God in the first place, at the top It is an invitation to put God in the first place, at the top of our thoughts and affections, because everything in life must lead to him and everything must start from him.

By doing this, by seeking the kingdom of God, according to the Gospel promise, By doing this, by seeking the kingdom of God, according to the Gospel promise, the rest will be given us as extra. Putting aside everything for the kingdom, we receive the hundredfold in houses, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, because the Gospel has a clear human dimension: Jesus is the God-man and, together with spiritual food, he guarantees us bread, a house, clothing, a family.

Perhaps we should learn from the ‘little ones’ to trust more in the Father’s Perhaps we should learn from the ‘little ones’ to trust more in the Father’s Providence. He does not withhold anything from those who, out of love, have given even the little they had.

A group of young people in Congo, for some time now, have been making A group of young people in Congo, for some time now, have been making artistic greeting cards out of banana skins for sale in Germany. At first they kept all the profits (some of them used it to keep their entire family). Then they decided to share half the profit, and thirty-five unemployed young people were helped.

But God does not allow himself to be outdone in generosity. Two of these But God does not allow himself to be outdone in generosity. Two of these young men gave such a witness in the shop where they work that several traders came there to look for staff. And eleven of them have found permanent jobs!

"The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Mt 13, 45 -46). “Word of Life”, monthly publication of the Focolare Movement. Original text by: Chiara Lubich, July 1999. Graphic design by Anna Lollo in collaboration with Fr. Placido D’Omina (Sicily - Italy) This commentary on the Word of Life is translated in 96 languages, and it reaches millions of people throughout the world through the press, radio, TV and internet – for more information visit www. focolare. org This Powerpoint presentation is translated in various languages and is published on www. santuariosancalogero. org