The Bible in Dialogue with Questions of the Day: The pearl of great price — The one thing necessary.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. God’s voice, God’s word, is alive and active. The word that goes forth from his mouth does not return to him empty, but it shall accomplish that which he purposes, and succeed in the thing for which he sent it. As God said to the prophet Jeremiah: “Is not my word like fire, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29). It has been active throughout history, and like a two-edged sword it pierces one’s innermost being and judges emotions and thoughts. Through his word, and his divine activity, God is speaking to his Church and the world today, calling on it to pray for that divine wisdom for which “Solomon” called on God, to send that heavenly wisdom forth from his holy heavens to make us learn what is pleasing to God, to appreciate the one thing necessary, the pearl of great price. God’s voice was again present in his Son Jesus as he reminded us of what is required to inherit eternal life, to enter the kingdom of heaven. The expression “kingdom of heaven” can mean a variety of things, depending on the context, but on the lips of the rich young man the words eternal life indicate the next world. Not that Christianity is just otherworldly. The commandments cited by Jesus to the young man’s question about what to do to inherit eternal life had to do with this world and human interrelationships. Yet Jesus’ central message was that the Gospel message is about eternal life, not just life here on earth.

            The voice of Jesus is addressing us today in a particular way. This year, 2015, we are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the closure of ther Vatican Council. Pope Benedict XVI has reminded us that there is a danger of forgetting that the purpose of thr Council was to call the Church to inner renewal. We live in an age with pressure towards the secular, with no place for religion in public life. There is the danger of not listening to the voice of God speaking, calling us to accept Christ and Christianity for what they are — the pearl of great price, reminding us of the one thing necessary, keeping the commandments within a living Christian community. There is a call for a renewal of the Christian vision. The Christian vision has given individuals and society stability and a sense of purpose down through the centuries. This is something our own age and country badly need today. It is a vision that cannot be just of the mind. It must be sustained by a living sacramental faith, with Jesus at its centre. Christianity has changed to course of human history. It can do so again. As Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel reading: For God all things are possible.

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