Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy offers a reflection based on Pope Francis’ December prayer intention.
While still in this season of gift-giving and receiving, we consider a story by Alice Gray.
The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. “Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!”
“If you really want them, you can save enough money to buy them for yourself.” Mother replied. “Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”
After counting the pennies in her bank and doing many extra chores to earn money, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill, and at last she had enough to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. She wore them everywhere—Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night he would come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?” Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess—the white horse from my collection. She’s my favorite.” “That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss. About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?” “Daddy, you know I love you.” “Then give me your pearls.” “Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday.” “That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.” And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed. He noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. “What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”
Jenny just lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a stand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.
Pope Francis’ intention for this month is: “that people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.”
Since we are all involved in the transmission of the faith in some way, this is a challenge for us all. We have a great treasure to transmit. We have an incalculable gift to bestow. God, the Giver of all Gifts entrusts us with the privilege of giving this gift that truly is His to give. It is ours to help those we meet and touch to loosen their grip on the lesser objects that fill their thoughts and cross their thresholds. The Pope not only calls us to challenge our hearers to carve out an empty space in which to welcome the faith. He asks us to dialogue with culture in a way that is effective both to that unique way of life, but also to our own time. This implies that we will take the time and effort to learn about other cultures and the ways to touch their hearts.
This seems to be quite a daunting project! In Gaudete et Exsultate Pope Francis gives us encouragement and direction as he writes: Look at Jesus. His deep compassion reached out to others. It did not make him hesitant, timid or self-conscious, as often happens with us. Quite the opposite. His compassion made him go out actively to preach and to send others on a mission of healing and liberation. Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us too on mission. We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier. Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission.”
We surely have the “pearl of great price” to share with the world. Let us pray for the words and ways to bring this great gift to the People of God everywhere