2nd Sunday After Epiphany: Sincerity

When the pearl is cast down into the mud it does not become dishonored the more, nor if its anointed with balsam oil will it become more precious. But it has its worth in the eyes of its owner at all times. So with the Sons of God wherever they may be. For they have the value in the eyes of their Father.

Gospel of Philip

This gospel talks about the pearl, and the pearl has a long history in Christian and Gnostic thought. The Gospel of Matthew has the Parable of the Pearl:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:45–46

In Matthew, the pearl is likened to the Kingdom of Heaven, and implies that the pearl can only be had when you sell all that you have, and purchase it with the proceeds of that. It’s commonly interpreted to mean that the Kingdom of Heaven requires diligent seeking, with the merchant being the listener. Some interpret the merchant to be Jesus, who sought the Christian Church by giving all he had to found it.

The Gospel of Thomas also contains a version of the Parable of the Pearl:

Jesus said, “The Father’s kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys.”

Gospel of Thomas 76, Patterson/Meyer translation

Thomas puts a greater emphasis on the incorruptibility and value of the Kingdom of the Father (one assumes this is also the Kingdom of Heaven). And in this, it is the Kingdom of the father who is the merchant, and who is purchasing the pearl at great price, disposing of that which will fade; the fallen divine sparks of the Gnostics, perhaps?

The listener in Thomas is encouraged to also seek that divine spark, the unfailing treasure, the pearl. The pearl of the soul, and the gnosis that leads to it, are the unfailing, incorruptible treasures which gnostics are to seek out.

Philip’s gospel talks about those who’ve made this purchase, and paid the price. The pearl, he says, does not get less valuable for having been dropped in the mud, nor more valuable when anointed by oil. In our situation, the divine spark is not lessened for being encased in flesh, nor more valuable for temporal honors heaped upon that flesh. It is that spark that the Divine seeks to reunite with, as the merchant in Thomas. And it should be our goal to sincerely reunite with that same Divine.

Although we are here behind the illusion of separation, we are treasures in the eyes of Our Father. We are the Children of God, and loved like those children, and always welcomed home. Try to remember this as you go about your day. When you feel inadequate or unworthy, remember you are a treasure in the eyes of God, then go forth to Love and serve the Lord.