17th Sunday in Ordinary Time year
A Lectionary #109
The king held in his hand a larger and more beautiful pearl than anyone had ever seen. Turning he asked the prime minister “how much is this pearl worth?” He replied “more than ten chests of gold.” The king said, “Smash it.” He protested, “It would be unthinkable to destroy such a pearl.”
To the palace master the king asked “and you, how much do you think this pearl worth?” He answered “more than a thousand yards of silk.” “Smash it” said the king. The man objected, “It would be an insult to the king to ruin this pearl!”
To a laborer the king said, “Sir, what do you say this pearl is worth?” The laborer looked at the pearl, examining it closely, feeling its weight, and then he said “Your majesty, I have no idea.” The king said, “Smash it.”
Without hesitation he struck the pearl with a stone and reduced it to powder.
All shouted, “This man is mad!”
When the laborer finally spoke he said, “What is of greater value, a pearl of great price, or the word of the king?”
Pearls form in oysters as a defense mechanism. When a rough bit of sand or grit begins causing irritation the organism covers it with cells, which form a pearl sac. A pearl is the result of many layers of shiny and hard protection.
Our ego is very similar. Each human ego is a defense mechanism to irritations and pain, which in early life feels like a threat to our very existence. The ego starts as the avoidance of pain and can become extremely beautiful and useful. It functions from a concern for self-preservation and success.
Our soul is greater than our ego. The soul desires abundance of life. This sometimes involves sorrow but always joy. The deep soul is large enough to bear irritation, pain and grief because it knows that these things come and go. But the soul itself does not come and go. It is our share in the eternity of God.
To the shallow ego a vocation feels like an irritation and a threat to our “freedom and happiness.” Vocation from God implies a loss of control and the ego is all about controlling life to avoid pain and sorrow. The abundance the soul wants does not come through control but by surrendering control through trustful obedience to God.
The pearl or fearful and defensive structure of our lives is smashed each time we genuinely surrender control over our lives by truly accepting the word of the king. And there is no more precious word from our king than the word of our vocation.
Fr. Mark Blom omi
Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Province