Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99:5-7, 9
“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.” (Matthew 13:45)
Would you ever sell everything that you own to buy the calcified secretion of an irritated mollusk? Technically, that’s what a pearl is. When an irritant enters into the oyster, its defense against germs is to encase the irritant with calcium carbonate until it is fully covered. And the result is a lustrous pearl.
Why do humans find oyster secretions so attractive? Obviously, it’s the pearl’s outward beauty.
What about Jesus? From the moment he first appeared to this very day, people have been giving up everything they had to follow him. But it wasn’t because of his exterior appearance. On the outside, there was nothing extraordinary about Jesus. He dressed simply and never tried to draw undue attention to himself. The son of a carpenter, he probably had callouses and dirty fingernails. What’s more, he had a habit of making friends with lepers, prostitutes, and other undesirables. Why would so many people be attracted to him?
It isn’t his outer appearance that makes Jesus so attractive. It’s his inner life: the love, the compassion, the mercy. Even in his sacramental presence, there’s not much that is appealing. The Host is made up only of wheat and water, and is often just an unadorned wafer. And yet people could spend hours lost in contemplation of the One who is present through this plain, everyday sign of unleavened bread.
Spending our life seeking Jesus’ inner beauty has the potential to bring us more joy and delight than any treasure on earth could ever give. Jesus is the most captivating, most magnificent, the most desirable treasure that we could ever dedicate our lives to. It has been said that in ancient times wealthy people used to wear their jewelry to bed so that the moment they woke up they could be reminded of how well off they were. Perhaps we could take a cue from them and wear a cross necklace for the same reason: to remind us of the wonderful treasure that we have found in Jesus.
“Lord, you are the greatest treasure I could ever find. Help me wake up with your cross on my mind and your praises on my lips, for the treasure that you have given me will last for eternity!”~WAU