“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13
Today the Church commemorates St. Birgitta of Sweden, mystic and religious leader. She was born in Uppland in 1303 into a prestigious family, her father being a Lawspeaker (A unique office in Scandinavia; being someone who memorized the law and recite it a the Thing as necessary). She and her husband were deeply devout, making many pilgrimages together, including the Camino de Santiago (the pilgrimage of St. James). After her husband died, Birgitta joined the Third Order Franciscans. Later she began the Brigittines, a religious order for women and men. The order was bound by strict poverty and the only thing there was no restriction on was books. Birgitta was a visionary and author of many prayers. Her visions influenced artists’ depictions of both the nativity and the crucifixion. Her prayers continue to be circulated in the church. Her faith in Christ and his redeeming work was central to all that she did. Rooted deeply in prayer, Birgitta discovered the pearl of great price and dedicated her life to living according to it.
How dear do we hold the Pearl of Great Value, Jesus Christ? Few of us would be called upon to sell all that we have and start a monastery, but like Birgitta, we find ourselves searching for Christ in the busyness of our lives. Sometimes it is really difficult to find what we are looking for through the din and distractions. For many, our prayer lives mimic this distracted world. We go through the rituals of the spiritual life hoping to invent a way that will help us know Christ better. Those efforts often begin with “I just need to…” or “I should do…” or “I know I should be better at…” and they end in frustration.
I have heard some say the gift of the pandemic has been to slow us down and make us less frenetic. Perhaps you have discovered more intentional time for meditation and prayer. If you have, this is indeed a true gift. In the silence of those moments we discover that the Pearl of Great Worth, is already in our possession. For we have Christ and we do not need to find him. Christ has first found us. In those small moments of silence, between our breaths, Christ is revealed deep inside of us, a beautiful opalescent pearl, brimming with love.