Reflection for the 17th Sunday of Year

My dear Friends

Many years ago, I was awakened by the sounds of doors shaking and things around me rattling. It took me a few moments to realise that I was experiencing my first mini earth/seaquake! We all abandoned the buildings and headed towards the sea. I noticed that many hundreds of people had grabbed what was most precious to them as they had exited their properties. Many people were in their bathrobes, clutching wooden boxes which contained their prized possessions. Recently, I saw in the papers, the tragic images of homes teetering on the edge of wave-battered cliffs before collapsing on to the beaches below. The thought did run through my mind, were I in that situation, what would I consider precious enough to grab before I raced from the house?

Today’s readings ask us what we perceive ‘most precious’ in our lives? The Pearl of Great Price, in this Sunday’s readings, place before us a number of images/analogies/metaphors in which we are invited to discern the preciousness of our relationship with Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. One of the great mystics tells us that it is very unlikely we shall find a pearl of great price sitting on the beach or on the rocks! If we want to find that precious pearl we shall have to learn how to dive for it. I guess that challenge here is to ask ourselves three questions:

  • How precious to me is my relationship with Christ?

  • How precious to me is the Kingdom of heaven?

  • For me what in life has the ultimate value

To a large extent, my responses to these questions will unfold the commentary of my life! My words and my actions will bespeak what is most precious to me. What I perceive as the most precious, having the ultimate value to me, will be what I clutch to my heart, and cling to, when the world around me seems to be imploding, or falling apart.

The gospel today unfolds for us how precious and life-giving that relationship with Christ is for each one of us. We are not going to find that precious relationship as casually as picking a precious pearl off the beach. Like any relationship, relationships do not just happen...relationships have to be ‘worked at’...if we deem them precious to us!

We all know that the pearl is created by an irritant within the oyster. The oyster’s response to irritation and pain is to create a thing of beauty. Our human condition being what it is, as I reflect on my life’s experiences, I think I know why some of the pearls in the oyster can be a little distorted and twisted! It is often by allowing the reflective love of God to flow through us, and in us, that his healing and restorative love can make the slightly twisted and distorted pearl into a thing of unique beauty. In the ever-hopeful words of the mystic: what strikes the oyster shell does not damage the pearl!!

And so, my dear friends, we can ask ourselves, is my relationship with the God who loves me truly precious to me? Is it my pearl of great price? As we hear in other parts of the sacred scriptures: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. All too often, we put off ‘diving’ for that pearl, putting it on the ‘back-burner’ of our busy lives until ‘we have more time’ – and then life is over before we know it!

This is the ‘now’ when we are both invited and challenged to discern and respond!

Remember me as loving you,

Fr. Antony

The parish is part of the Diocese of Portsmouth. Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust registered charity 246871.

© 2019• Immaculate Conception Church, Portswood, Southampton

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