There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old monks why it was that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city. The old monk told him, "Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night. After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. "Do you understand what I have told you?" the old man said. “No,” replied the young monk. "It is simple," said the old monk, "my dog saw the rabbit."
In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about a man who, one day in the market place, saw the pearl of great price. The merchant understood at once the value of the commodity before him and he sacrificed everything to obtain it. For much of the time, we are searching for false treasures, mainly money, status and pleasure. For much of the time we are locked into a past full of nostalgia or regrets, or focused on future desires, fears or anxieties. Meanwhile the present passes us by and the treasure is still not discovered and the really valuable pearl is never found. Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is worth sacrificing all we have. He offers us God's Kingdom, a unique pearl of the greatest price. The “treasures” and “pearls” of everlasting value are the things of God. In order to attain such treasure, we must set aside our own interests, ambitions and agendas and thus free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of compassion, love and mercy of God which reconciles us to Himself. This parable also reminds us that the most precious things in life are to know God and to live according to the Gospel.
What the parables really teach us is that, when one discovers Jesus and His vision of life, everything else becomes secondary. That is what St. Paul meant when he said: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:8), and again "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 2:21). To have a personal experience of Christ and personal relationship with Him – in other words, to have made Christ’s view of life our own – is the most precious thing in the world.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.