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The Parable of the Merchant of Precious Pearls Explained by the Pope (With Concrete Questions To Be Applied in Life)

Some 11,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square at midday on Sunday, July 30, to recite the Marian prayer of the Angelus with the Holy Father. In his words after his address and the Marian prayer, the Holy Father recalled that on Sunday the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was being observed and he also appealed to Russia to restore the provisioning of grain. Finally, he asked for prayers for his trip to Portugal, for the World Youth Day.

Here is the Holy See’s translation into English of the Pontiff’s address in Italian.

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Today the Gospel tells the parable of a merchant in search of precious gemstones, who, Jesus says, “on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matthew 13:46). Let us pause a little on the actions of this merchant, who first seeks, then finds and finally buys.

This man’s first action: to seek. He is an enterprising merchant, who does not stand still, but leaves his house and sets out in search of precious pearls. He does not say: “I am satisfied with the ones I have”; he looks for more beautiful ones. And this is an invitation for us not to close ourselves up in habit, in the mediocrity of those who are complacent, but to revive desire: to revive the desire, so that the desire to seek, to go on, is not extinguished; to cultivate dreams of good, to seek the newness of the Lord, because the Lord is not repetitive, He always brings newness, the newness of the Spirit; He always makes the realities of life new (cf. Revelationwe must have this attitude: to seek.

The merchant’s second action is to find. He is a shrewd person who “has a keen eye” and knows how to recognize a pearl of great value. This is not easy. Let us think, for example, of the fascinating oriental bazaars, where the stalls, full of goods, are crowded along the walls of streets full of people; or of some of the stalls one sees in many cities, full of books and various objects. Sometimes in these markets, if one stops to look closely, one can discover treasures: precious things, rare volumes that, mixed in with everything else, one does not notice at first glance. But the merchant in the parable has a sharp eye and knows how to find, he knows how to “discern” to find the pearl. This too is a teaching for us: every day, at home, on the street, at work, on holiday, we have the possibility of discerning good. And it is important to know how to find what counts: to train ourselves to recognize the precious gems of life and to distinguish them from junk. Let us not waste time and freedom on trivial things, pastimes that leave us empty inside, while life offers us every day the precious pearl of the encounter with God and with others! It is necessary to know how to recognize it: to discern in order to find it.

And the merchant’s last action: he buys the pearl. Realizing its immense value, he sells everything, he sacrifices all his goods just to have it. He radically changes the inventory of his warehouse; there is no longer anything other than that pearl: it is his only wealth, the meaning of his present and his future. This too is an invitation for us. But what is this pearl for which one can renounce everything, the one of which the Lord speaks to us? This pearl is Him: it is the Lord! Seeking the Lord and finding the Lord, encountering the Lord, living with the Lord. The pearl is Jesus: He is the precious pearl of life, to be sought, found and made one’s own. It is worth investing everything in Him because, when one encounters Christ, life changes like this, doesn’t it? Your life … you meet Christ and in this way your life changes.

Let us then resume the merchant’s three actions: seeking, finding and buying — and ask ourselves some questions. Seeking: am I searching, in my life? Do I feel fine, accomplished, am I satisfied, or do I exercise my desire for good? Am I in spiritual retirement? How many young people are in retirement! The second action, finding: do I practise discerning what is good and comes from God, knowing how to renounce what leaves me with little or nothing? Finally, buying: do I know how to spend myself for Jesus? Is He in first place for me, is He the greatest good in life? It would be nice to say to Him today: “Jesus, You are my greatest good.” Each one of you in your heart, say now: “Jesus, you are my greatest good.”

May Mary help us to seek, find and embrace Jesus with all our being.