Friday, May 13, 2011

Love = Risk, Part II

« ...Continued from Love = Risk, Part I

Have you ever read the Princess and the Pea? It's a cute kindergarten-level children’s story about a prince who searches the world for a real princess. After traveling for a year, he comes back home without success but the Queen Mother tells him not to lose heart; it is time for her to reveal a secret that only a Queen knows. What is it? A real princess will feel the discomfort of a pea hidden under twenty mattresses and quilts, while a princess in name only will sleep soundly through the night. Then, no soon enough, a princess arrives at the kingdom's gate in the middle of a terrible thunderstorm. Being soaking wet (and providing a timely opportunity for the pea), she is invited to rest in the castle. The next morning, to the delight of the royal family, the young woman awakens to frustrated unrest and a sore back. Finally, the prince found his true princess!

One good story deserves another. Let's trade the secular for the divine. I continue my meditation with the following scripture: "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matt 13:45).

In the Book of Revelation, St. John of Patmos sees the finished Kingdom of God coming down from Heaven in the form of a glorified Jerusalem Temple. Why does he use that symbol? Let’s answer that question with a question from St. Paul: "Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?" (1 Cor 3:16). The Temple, therefore, is an image of the People of God. These are the saints who are "chosen and precious … like living stones … being built up as a spiritual house" (1 Pet 2:4-5) made from "jasper, …sapphire, …emerald, …onyx, …topaz, ...amethyst" (Rev 21:19-20), and their bodies radiate the exuberance of God like the Transfigured Body of Christ (see Matt 17:1-13). Being so absolutely gorgeous and wonderfully prepared, like a princess "bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2) on her wedding day, the Church is ready to be united to Christ forever.

Granted, that is some scripture sandwich to digest! I get bloated just looking at that paragraph. Here's it broken down to some easy chew.

  • A pearl is a precious stone
  • And a precious stone is a saint
  • And a saint is a member of the People of God
  • And the People of God are the Bride of Christ
  • And Christ is the Bridegroom
...Then the perfect merchant is Christ and the “one pearl of great value” is you and me. The Lord gave away everything to buy humanity. We were “bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20) by God – a purchase sealed in His own blood. "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 7:21), but God was willing to subject Himself to be abused at the hands of sinners so that the possibility of salvation can be granted to everyone. That hurt. That's love. That's true risk taking.

If you can entertain the idea, I think these are essentially the same story. The prince traded a pea for a princess; all other women were forsaken to obtain one precious woman. The merchant traded a peon’s wealth for a pearl; all other possessions were forsaken to obtain one precious stone. The Son of God traded perfection for penance on the Cross; all other divine benefits were forsaken to obtain one precious humanity. Each took a risk. All made the choice to totally devote themselves to one incredible find.

» Continue to Love = Risk, Part III...