A form of meditation to which I was once introduced at a retreat involves trying to picture a passage of scripture, such as a parable, in as vivid detail as possible, and to imagine oneself as one part of the story, and then as another and so on. The idea is to become an observer, nay, more than an observer, a participant in the story, giving free range to your imagination. The method, known as Ignatian Meditation, was developed by Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).
In that retreat the following passage was used.
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46).
The standard interpretation of this passage is that the Kingdom of Heaven is the pearl of great price, which to gain we should give up everything else.
There are not many characters in the story that one might imagine oneself to be, just the merchant. Or so it would seem until one gives free rein to one’s imagination.
I’ll go straight to an interpretation that surprised me and which has stayed with me for years. Imagine that the pearl of great price is – you. And the merchant is Jesus searching for you and giving all he had – for you.
You are that pearl of great price. Think about it.
Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 4-January-2016.