Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Reflection on the Price of the Pearl

A reader commented on my post from last Sunday. I thought it was well worth bringing to the fore:

"Way, way back in first grade Sister Mary Alacquoe was answering the questions of a classmate who told how every Wednesday afternoon he answered the door and there was a very polite lady from Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman always carried a Bible and would stand at the doorway reading and quoting scripture in an effort to convert this little six year old parochial school student.

I'm reminded of Sister's response - "anyone can quote scripture to their own advantage" - when I read here about Cardinal Egan's talk about the "pearl of great price." It's a powerful image - to think of a precious, luminescent, lustrous pearl embodied in the tapestry, the altar, the crucifix. We are transfixed by the beauty before us and so is Cardinal Egan. However, we all should focus on the part of that lovely phrase which is not so easy to understand or visualize - the "great price."All of these items were purchased at an economic price - they did not materialize out of thin air. They were paid for by long hours of immigrant work, some of it surely rewarding and much of it simply gruelling labor to raise and support a Catholic family. Out of the currency gained by this labor further sacrifices were made by these working class people for their church, for the glory of God, to honor St. Stanislaus Kostka, to remember Our Lady of Vilnius. What item of clothing was not purchased? what toys were not bought? what entertainment was passed up? what vacations were shortened or not even taken? so these good people would have a church worthy of their aspirations and a place to meet and be a community of God's people.

The Cardinal can talk all he wants about the altar of sacrifice. The real altar of sacrifice in this matter is labor of the people who actually purchased these "pearls of great price."

No comments: