These days it seems I have nothing worse to do than to ponder proverbs like "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (The corruption of the best is the worse). Today's tabloids don't leave any room for speculation about whether this is true. If you've been spared I would like to find out what planet you live on.

Then I'd want to move there. Anything to avoid the daily vomit of sludge and smut streaming live from podcasts, flowing through the airways, parading across the printed page, and spewing forth from the mouths of our own children.

It's the children I think that bring into bold relief what it means that the corruption of the best is the worse.I'm reminded of the Matt 7:6 injunction to not "throw your pearls before swine." There's also Matt 13:46 which takes up the pearl image again, describing the man who sells everything to seek a "pearl of great price" , the Kingdom of heaven as it were.

But I think it's also interesting to reverse the metaphor, describing the pearls as people, children especially. The role switch makes God the actor. He then becomes "the man" who "sells everything"(the glory of heaven) to search out the treasure of humanity buried so deeply in sin. God comes to save the best in us. Fr. Joseph Fessio described this reinterpretation during a homily a few years ago.

Though it takes some liberties, hermenuetically speaking, the metaphor resonates with the Church's teaching. Life is not about humanity's quest for God. It's really about God's quest for humanity.

To God, we ARE pearls of great price. Great enough for ransom and redemption. Great enough for death and new life. As C.S. Lewis once wrote: "You've never talked to a mere mortal." Everyone you've ever met carries the indelible marks of their Maker, a dignity big enough to continue to the other side of the grave.

Perhaps only when we do reach that "other side" will we really see the brilliance of the pearls that were made to be. Brilliant not because we're smart, not because we're sexy, slim, pretty, powerful or rich--all things that count for nothing in the kingdom--but because God who is Love itself, has loved us with everything that he is... ALL of God for EVERY ONE of us.

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What Does It Mean To Be Human?

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