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Speaking to the Soul: Pearls Before Swine

Speaking to the Soul: Pearls Before Swine

Week of 5 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 106:1-18 (morning) // 106:19-48 (evening)

Leviticus 23:1-22

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

Matthew 7:1-12

I’ve heard the expression “pearls before swine” many times, but I noticed something surprising today when I encountered the phrase in its Biblical context. I usually hear the phrase “pearls before swine” accompanied by an eye-roll and a lament that some people just don’t appreciate the finer things in life. Why waste something precious or refined on such creatures?

What a shame that the non-Biblical use of this expression reeks of such snobbery. Today’s gospel warns us about offering pearls to swine not because the swine simply won’t value the pearls, but because they will destroy the pearls . . . and possibly us as well. As Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them underfoot and turn and maul you.” Whatever throwing pearls before swine signifies, the danger is not merely that we go unappreciated and neglected, but that we and our gifts end up crushed and attacked.

I don’t usually like to associate people (or animals either, for that matter) with the characteristics that the gospel illustrates using dogs and pigs: ignorance and instinctive violence. Yet, when I consider these characteristics, the human voices that come to the top of my mind are those threatening with violence transgender people who use their restroom of gender identity. These voices are real and they are loud. Sometimes they are hyperbolic, but they consistently lace their rhetoric with references to “gun rights”.

When I think of pearls today, I think of the many precious and beautiful transgender people I know. Some of these have disclosed their identities publicly. Others have not, and their gender identity or history of gender identification is known only to the very, very few people they’ve trusted with their story. Disclosures like that are some of the pearls I cherish most.

Today, how can we communicate appreciation, acceptance, and safety to the unique and precious people around us? Who are the pearls that need to be cherished and held rather than cast out and exposed? May we find them and wear them close to our hearts today.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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