A story is told about the late Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw. When he first met the priests of his new diocese, he came out to speak with them dressed like a waiter, aproned, and with a beverage towel over his arm. Bishop Ken was imitating Jesus who, in John’s Gospel at the Last Supper (John 13), took the role of a servant by washing his disciples’ feet, and then told them to do likewise. But Jesus himself was building on King Solomon, who we meet in today’s first Scripture.
Solomon called himself a “servant King,” and God’s servant. When God offered to give Solomon anything he wanted, Solomon asked for an understanding heart, more literally a listening heart, so that he could govern well by distinguishing right from wrong. Today’s Gospel picks up on this theme. Jesus tells a parable about a pearl buried in a field, and how when a man finds it, he quickly sells everything to buy the field where it is buried. Then another parable follows immediately, about a fishnet that contains “fish of every kind,” and how the good has to be separated from the bad to be thrown away. Finally there is a third parable, of a householder who brings out of the storeroom, “both the new and the old.” So today’s Scriptures probe the difficulty of serving well, especially for those “in charge.” They need wisdom, not only “smarts.” They need to be able to discern well, to “judge,” the better course to take. They need to listen well like Solomon, find the pearl in all they hear, throw out bad ideas, conserve the good of the past and bring forth the new good of the present. We are all “in charge” of something, even if only our own lives. True service of “in charge” parents, teachers, team leaders, bosses, politicians, etc., is more than just meeting needs. It is staying focused on the pearl — the good, true and beautiful in every situation — and choosing it even when it means “selling all” rather than selling out.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia; photo by amboo who? on Flickr