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Pope Francis: Discernment helps us find the gems among the junk

Pope Francis gives his Angelus address June 29, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 30, 2023 / 07:26 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday encouraged Christians to learn how to seek and find the precious things in life, including a relationship with Christ and others.

“Every day, at home, on the street, at work, on holiday, we have the possibility of discerning good. And it is important to know how to find what counts: to train ourselves to recognize the precious gems of life and to distinguish them from junk,” he said in his weekly Angelus address July 30.

“Let us not,” he continued, “waste time and freedom on trivial things, pastimes that leave us empty inside, while life offers us every day the precious pearl of the encounter with God and with others!”

Vatican authorities said an estimated 11,000 people attended Pope Francis’ Sunday address and recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

At a hot and sunny midday, the pope reflected on Jesus’ parable of the merchant who finds “a pearl of great price.” He focused on the merchant’s actions of seeking, finding, and buying, and how they can teach us something today.

The first lesson is that the merchant is “enterprising,” Francis said. He is not complacent or satisfied by mediocrity, but goes in search of precious pearls.

“This is an invitation for us not to close ourselves up in habit,” he said, but “to revive desire, so that the desire to seek, to go on, is not extinguished; to cultivate dreams of good, to seek the newness of the Lord…”

The merchant also knows how to recognize a pearl of great value when he sees one, the pope said, noting that this is not always easy.

“Let us think, for example, of the fascinating oriental bazaars, where the stalls, full of goods, are crowded along the walls of streets full of people; or of some of the stalls one sees in many cities, full of books and various objects,” he said. “Sometimes in these markets, if one stops to look closely, one can discover treasures: precious things, rare volumes that, mixed in with everything else, one does not notice at first glance.”

Pope Francis said the merchant knows how to discern the valuable pearl from the rest and then he buys it.

“Realizing its immense value, he sells everything, he sacrifices all his goods just to have it. He radically changes the inventory of his warehouse; there is no longer anything other than that pearl: it is his only wealth, the meaning of his present and his future,” he emphasized.

“This too is an invitation for us. But what is this pearl for which one can renounce everything?” he added. “The pearl is Jesus: He is the precious pearl of life, to be sought, found and made one’s own. It is worth investing everything in him…”

Pope Francis proposed some questions for personal reflection based on the parable.

“Seeking: am I searching, in my life? Do I feel fine, accomplished, am I satisfied, or do I exercise my desire for good? Am I in spiritual retirement?” he said.

“Finding,” he continued. “Do I practice discerning what is good and comes from God, knowing how to renounce what leaves me with little or nothing? Finally, buying: do I know how to spend myself for Jesus? Is he in first place for me, is he the greatest good in life?”

“May Mary help us to seek, find and embrace Jesus with all of ourselves,” he concluded.

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