To the seeker after fine pearls may be applied the words, “Seek and you will find,” and, “Everyone who seeks will find.” If you ask what is to be sought, and what will be found by everyone who seeks for it, I say with all confidence: pearls—especially that pearl which will be acquired by those who give their all, who sacrifice everything for it, the pearl Paul meant when he said: “I have accepted the loss of everything in order to gain Christ.” “Everything” means beautiful pearls; “to gain Christ” refers to the one pearl of great price.
Admittedly, a lamp is precious to people in darkness, and they need it until sunrise. Precious too was the radiance on the face of Moses—and I believe on the faces of the other prophets also. It was a sight of beauty leading us to the point of being able to see the glory of Christ, to whom the Father bore witness in the words: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” But compared with this surpassing glory, what formerly was glorious now seems to have no glory at all. We need at first a glory destined to be outshone by an all-surpassing glory, just as we need the partial knowledge which “will be superseded when that which is perfect has come.”
Thus, everyone beginning to live a spiritual life and growing toward maturity needs tutors, guardians, and trustees until the fullness of time arrives for him, so that after all this, he who at first was no different from a slave although he owned the whole estate, may on his emancipation receive his patrimony from his tutor, guardians, and trustees.
This patrimony is the pearl of great price, and the coming of what is perfect to supersede what is imperfect when, after acquiring the forms of knowledge, if we may call them so, which are inferior to knowledge of Christ, one becomes able to understand the supreme value of knowing Christ. The law and the prophets fully comprehended are the preparation for the full comprehension of the gospel and the complete understanding of the acts and words of Christ Jesus.
Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel 10, 9-10:
SC 162, 173-177
Origen (183-253), one of the greatest thinkers of ancient times, became head of the catechetical school of Alexandria at the age of eighteen. In 230 he was ordained priest by the bishop of Caesarea. His life was entirely devoted to the study of Scripture and he was also a great master of the spiritual life. His book On first Principles was the first great theological synthesis. Many of his works are extant only in Latin as a result of his posthumous condemnation for heterodox teaching. Nevertheless, in intention he was always a loyal son of the Church.