Quiz time: Who was the wisest person ever to live? According to our first reading, Solomon was – it says, “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”
Seems pretty clear he was the wisest person. But here’s a trick question: what was it that made him wise? I’ll give you a hint, it’s in the first part of the first reading. Pay attention to what Solomon says and see if you can see what makes him wise.
The second reading has a great, comforting line: “all things work for good for those who love God”. There’s so much we could say about that, – but do we believe it? Do we live like we believe it? For example, when we look at all the craziness in the world right now, do we really believe God will bring good out of it?
Finally the Gospel has three more very short parables from Jesus – and the one we’re going to focus on is about the Pearl of Great Price where a guy sells everything to buy a pearl which is more valuable than anything else. The main question we’ll ponder is this: What is the pearl?
One very brief, but important comment about Solomon… what was it that made him wise? Yeah - I know - God made him wise, but I think his greatest wisdom was reflected in how he replied to God, basically saying – look God, You made me king, but I’m a nobody and I’m in way over my head… if you don’t help me there’s no way I can serve this kingdom you gave me. Regardless of what happened after this moment, Solomon showed us ultimate wisdom: to recognize that the task before us would be impossible without God’s help.
Keep that in mind... but let’s turn to the Gospel. When the guy in the Gospel finds that one thing which he values above everything else, notice how his life comes into focus: he sells everything to buy that one pearl. He has found something worth living for – and everything else in his life pales in comparison. Everything else just becomes a means to allow him to reach this new goal he has found.
You gotta wonder: What is that pearl? What is that Pearl in YOUR life? Maybe it’s "wisdom"… like we heard Solomon ask for….that would make a lot of sense – God certainly seemed pleased when Solomon asked for wisdom. But Maybe it’s "time" – God gives us only 2-3 billion seconds in our life, so maybe recognizing our mortality is a great treasure? That recognition may increase our sense of urgency about making every moment count. Maybe it’s relationships, because at the end of our lives, we’re not really going to care whether we won a championship, saved a million dollars, became famous, or caught the biggest fish. In the end, it’s our relationships that matter… love. That's a good one… but Perhaps the pearl is our "faith"?? Like Paul said in another letter: your faith is worth more than fire-tried gold. Or from a totally different perspective, maybe "YOU" are the pearl…and Jesus is the one who gave everything He had to redeem you. All of these could be right.
We choose. What is YOUR pearl of great price? What is your goal in life? How are you and I going to spend our 2-3 billion seconds of life? It may sound like a lot, but it’s a finite number. If you’re 40, you’ve already got less than a billion remaining… on average.
Each second is a gift from God. The way I see it, we each have two choices: we can SPEND our seconds…letting them slip by… or we can INVEST our seconds to reach a goal: to purchase a pearl.
See – if we set a goal – then we have something to strive for. If we set a goal, then we have a guiding principle which can help us decide how to invest our time. With every decision, we can ask whether this will take us closer to or further from our goal. Trouble is, most of us don’t even KNOW the goal of our life. Without a goal, we tend to frivolously spend our time. We’re all busy – but busy doing what?
How many hours do we waste scrolling through our social media? How many hours do we waste surfing the web or surfing TV channels? Again – downtime and rest are wise – but surely we can all recognize that there are times when we suddenly realize we’ve wasted an hour or two or three just mindlessly scrolling – with no direction or purpose. 3600 seconds gone. We aimed at nothing – and we’re left with nothing. Time Spent or Time Invested?
So our challenge is to figure out our goal in life. What would you sell everything to purchase? Seriously take this to prayer: what are we willing to live for? What are we willing to die for?
To figure out what your current goal in life is, there are three questions you can take to prayer:
Where do you spend your time? Where do you spend your money? What do you think about the most?
I may ‘think’ my goal is to be a great husband, but if I spend all my time and money on ‘my’ toys and ‘my’ hobbies, then that tells me that I’m fooling myself….but I’m probably not fooling my wife. If I say my goal is to be a great dad, but never invest time with my kids, I’m fooling myself – but I’m not fooling my kids. If I say I want to be a saint but I never invest time in prayer, I’m fooling myself- but not fooling God. Maybe you want to go with a generic goal like ‘ I just want to be happy’… but we all know happiness is fleeting. Happiness is not a pearl of great price.
Without a goal…without a pearl of great price… we have nothing to live for except selfish pleasure. Once we find a goal worth living for – it gives meaning to every moment. When we know our purpose in life, we stop SPENDING time and start INVESTING time. When we know our goal, we have something to LIVE for…. We might even have something that we’d DIE for.
Maybe, just maybe, our pearl should be to be a saint. Leon Bloy the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint. If that’s not our goal, then investing time in prayer and going to church would make no sense.
Pick your pearl. If God was to grant you one wish, what would it be?
Set your goal so high that it is impossible for you to reach without God’s help.