Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readers of this column will grant this week’s writer the indulgence of examining the readings with a particular emphasis on the thought of St. Ignatius of Loyola. We will celebrate his feast on July 31, Thursday of this week. These brief reflections may help us focus on his great spiritual insights.
Today’s reading tells the story of the pearl of great price, how a merchant sold everything so that he could purchase something of great value. It is a story of priorities, looking at what we have in relation to what we really desire and how we will manage these resources to attain that which we desire most. The first reading helps focus this theme with the prayer of Solomon who asks God to give him an understanding heart so that he can distinguish right from wrong.
Ignatius of Loyola composed the Spiritual Exercises based on his own experience of moving towards God. What he realized was that the “pear of great price” was a continual relationship with God and that there were other pearls out there that can catch our eye but are of lesser value and often nothing but a cheap imitation. The Exercises are means by which we can move ourselves closer to that love, or as St. Paul says in First Corinthians, keep our eye on the prize.
Perhaps one of the greatest ways of keeping our eye on the prize is examining one’s conscience and keeping track of those things in our day that move us towards God and which things which tempt us to purchase pearls of lesser value.