17th. Sunday in Ordinary Time

There was a famous American author John Steinbeck who wrote many famous novels, “The Grapes of Wrath”; “Of Mice and Men”, etc. He wrote a beautiful story called the Pearl. The Pearl, which takes place in La Paz, Baja California and it begins with a description of the seemingly ideal family life of a poor pearl fisherman called Kino, his wife Juana, and their infant son, Coyotito. Kino watches as Coyotito sleeps but sees a scorpion crawl down the rope that holds the hanging box where Coyotito sleeps. Kino attempts to catch the scorpion, but Coyotito bumps the rope, and the scorpion falls on him. Although Kino kills the scorpion, it stings Coyotito. Juana and Kino, accompanied by their neighbours, go to see the local doctor, who refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino cannot pay enough to sustain the greedy doctor’s lifestyle, and because the doctor holds racist views towards the poor Mexican. Kino and Juana take Coyotito down near the sea, where Juana uses a seaweed poultice on Coyotito’s shoulder, which is now swollen. Kino dives for oysters from his canoe, hoping to find a pearl he can sell to pay the doctor. He finds a very large oyster which yields an immense pearl, and which he dubs “The Pearl of the World”. The news that Kino has found an immense pearl travels swiftly through the town of La Paz. Kino’s neighbours begin to feel envious towards him for his good fortune, but neither Kino nor Juana realizes this feeling that they have engendered. Juana tries to convince Kino that this pearl will disrupt their happy life and will destroy them; but Kino insists that the pearl is their one chance for a better life and convinces Juana that they go to the big city and sell the pearl. The dealers of La Paz are aware through the gossip of the town that a big pearl has been found. Kino and Juana go to the capital city to try and sell the pearl. A group of robbers accosts Kino, there is a struggle, he fights off the thieves and he finds out that because of the struggle Coyotito is dead. Heartbroken, Juana and Kino return to La Paz. The two approach the gulf, and Kino looks at the pearl for the last time and sees in it an image of Coyotito with his head shot away. In anguish, Kino hurls the pearl into the ocean. It sinks to the bottom and is soon buried in the sand. In our lives there are many pearls, they are beautiful and attractive and promise us happiness. Joseph Cambell, a litterature professor, said: “The greatest tragedy in life is no so much failure, but rather climbing the ladder of success and finding out that it is up against the wrong wall. “ During the covid 19 crisis many of us have been thinking about what is most important in our lives. It has provided us with a break from the rat race and forced us to slow down, to pull the emergency break. In the gospel today Jesus speaks about another pearl, it’s the Kingdom of heaven. It’s not a thing it is a person, it is Jesus Christ himself. He does not offer an easy happiness, he asks for commitment, sacrifice and perseverance and lots of love. When we think of the parable of the pearl, let us think of Jesus, let us look for him in the gospel and in our mass and in the heart of eveyrone we meet and we will find him deep down in our own heart.