The Readings for the 17th Wednesday, Tempus per Annum (C2)
When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart, because I bear your name, LORD God of hosts.
SCRIPTURE STUDY has consumed the writer since the late 90s. In those days there was a (near) daily mailing of a short meditation based on the Episcopal Church’s Daily Office Lectionary, a two-year cycle of three daily texts. But, although I nerd out on the meanings of Greek words and Hebrew verb stems, it’s not the head that matters. It may astound you to hear a Dominican say that. But let’s look at the idea closer. One of the Four Pillars of the Dominican way of life is the pillar of Study. For this Dominicans often get accused of being all “in the head”. We are often seen as studious, and even scholastic in all the negative, angels-on-pinheads implications of that word. Yet, within the tradition, “study” as a pillar doesn’t lead to head-knowledge but rather to heart-knowledge or, as one priest said to me, “study should not be about understanding, but rather about wisdom.”
And so, the words of YHVH, in Hebrew devarim and in LXX Greek logos, are joy and happiness: they are not just something to nerd out on, but something to contemplate. If Bible study doesn’t make you pray, you’re missing the point!
And so Jesus talks about the Pearl of Great Price that the kingdom goes looking for. Please understand me: in the second parable today the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not likened to the pearl itself, but rather the merchant. What’s going on here?
Remember the purpose is to pray more…
In the first Parable, the kingdom is likened to the treasure found in the field. For me, this is Bible Study. When you dig into the Bible, you find the Kingdom… all you need to do is open the Bible and literally read anything – it will draw you into the Kingdom. So much so, that you close the book (bury the treasure again, as it were) and buy the entire field. You must get more. You need more NOW. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest those words, as the Anglican Collect says. We are pulled ever deeper and as we dig up the treasure again in the field we find there’s more and more hid there than we ever knew! We keep digging. And there’s always more.
What is the Kingdom? In Matthew’s literary tradition we don’t say “God” we say “heaven” so “Kingdom of Heaven” is the same as “Kingdom of God”. As I noted in an earlier post, the Kingdom is Jesus himself: in his person. When we dig in these scriptures, we find they all bring us to the Kingdom, that is, to Jesus.
But then we find something strange.
The Kingdom of Heaven is a like a merchant buying pearls.
Jesus was already seeking us. And having found the Pearl of Great Price – that is, you – he sold everything to get you. His Godhead, his life, his body, blood, soul, and divinity given to and for you. The Kingdom is not something we find (although it can seem that way) rather, He’s something that has found us. Has found you.
Pearl sang it best, “Won’t you come home…”
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