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Posts Tagged ‘hymn of the pearl’

The Pearl Salesman and the Soul Doctors (The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles)

Posted by JVP on April 4, 2008

As soon as the Lord gave us a mind to, we headed down to the docks. We found a ship about to sail and asked the sailors about signing on as passengers. The sailors were all really nice to us, thank God. We sailed for about a day and a night, and then a mysterious wind came up behind us and blew us out to a small city in the middle of the sea.

A few people were standing on the dock, and I asked one of them what this city was called. One of them answered, “It’s called Place of Living; that is, the Base….” Their leader had a palm branch, and held it at the end of a dock. We unloaded our stuff from the boat, and I walked into town to try to find us a place to stay.

On the way, I ran across a guy in strange clothes: he wore a gold belt around a loincloth, with a cloak tied around his chest that covered his shoulders, head and hands.

I couldn’t help but stare at him– he was really beautiful looking. I could only see the bottoms of his feet, some of his chest, his hands and his face– everything else was covered by his odd clothing. He was holding a book cover in his left hand and a woodern staff in his right hand. He had a booming voice, and slowly cried out, “Pearls! Pearls!”

I could swear he was a native of this place, and addressed him politely, “My brother and friend!” He replied, “You’re right, I’m your brother and your friend! What do you want?” I anwered, “I’m here with some brothers of mine. We’re foreigners, and I’m wondering if you know any place we can stay in town.” He answered, “This is why I told you that you’re right about us being brothers, because I’m not from these parts either.”

Then he continued, “Pearls! Pearls!” All of the rich people in town heard him and started sticking their heads out of their windows and doors. Of course, they didn’t see that he had anything, because he wasn’t carrying anything that looked like pearls. They all went back to what they were doing, without even acknowledging his existance– they were all, “This guy is making fun of us.”

Listen, though: the poor people, now they heard him and surrounded him. They asked him, “Sir, we don’t have any money to buy any pearls, but could we at least see one? That way we’ll be able to tell people we’ve actually seen a pearl.” He told them, “If you come to my city, I won’t just show you a pearl– I’ll give one to you free of charge!”

They replied, not believing him, “Come on now. Nobody gives pearls away to beggars. Usually we get bread and money, and we’re not asking for that. All we want from you is to see this pearl. That’ll be enough kindness for us.” he answered, “No, I’m serious. If you come to my city, I’ll give you a pearl.” The poor beggars let out a cheer at this amazing kindness.

“So,” I asked him, “can you tell us your name? Also, how difficult is it to find this city of yours? Me and my pals are servants of God, and strangers, and we’re on a mission to spread the word of God in every city as well as we can.” He replied, “I’m called Lithargoel, which means ‘light, gazelle-like stone.’

“So let me tell you about how to get to my town. Only people who’ve given up everything and have fasted every day from one place to the next will get there. The road is crawling with all kinds of bandits and wild animals. If you carry bread with you, you’ll be killed by roaming packs of black dogs. If you wear fancy clothes, you’ll be killed by vicious bandits. If you carry water, you’ll be killed by thirsty wolves. If you’re worried about meat and vegetables, you’ll be killed by lions for the meat, and gored by bulls for the vegetables.”

When I heard this, I couldn’t believe it. “This sounds insane! I wish Jesus would help me walk down this road.” Lithargoel looked at my sad face, and said “Why so put off? If you know Jesus and believe in him, you’ll be fine. He’s a great, strong power. I also believe in the Father who sent Jesus.”

I asked him, “What’s your city called?” He said, “Nine Gates. Praise God and remember that the Tenth Gate is the Head.”

After he said that, I took off to find my friends. On the way, I saw huge waves smashing into the walls surrounding the city. I coldn’t believe it; I asked an old man whether this city was really called the Base. He replied, “The Base, indeed, because we live here because we dwellers are a foundation.”

I replied, “If this is the case, it’s rightly named. A city’s inhabitants are what makes the kingdom strong, even in the face of the storms that batter the walls. I guess in this way everybody who follows the Way wholeheartedly will be a city in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

I rushed on, and called my friends so we could start heading to Nine Gates. We swore to give up everything we owned. We escaped the bandits since we weren’t wearing fancy clothes. We escaped the black dogs since we weren’t carrying bread. We escaped the wolves since we weren’t carrying any water. We escaped the lions since we weren’t craving meat. We escaped the bulls since we weren’t craving vegetables.

We were beyond happy, peaceful and carefree like our Lord. We rested in front of the city gate, and discussed the gnosis in contemplation. We talked about our journey, and when we mentioned then robbers, who should appear but Lithargoel, dressed like a doctor! He was carrying a box of medicinal oil, and he had a student behind him with a bag full of medicines.

Actually, we didn’t recognize him. Since I took him for a stranger, I asked him, “Hey, would you do us the kindness of showing us where Lithargoel lives? We’re from out of town and want to visit him before nightfall.”

The “doctor” answered, “I’m glad to show you, but I’m surprised you know this guy. He doesn’t usually show himself to just anyone, because he’s a powerful prince. Wait here for a minute– I have to go heal someone, and I’ll be right back.” He was gone for a bit and came back soon.

He called out my name, “Peter!”, and I was fairly freaked out, because I had no idea how he knew it. I replied, “Hey, do I know you? How do you know my name?” Lithargoel answered, “Hey, who gave you that nickname anyhow?” I answered, “It was Jesus Christ, the Son of the God who Lives. He gave me this name.” He replied, “Heh, Peter, it’s me!” Casting off his doctor’s costume, we knew it was him.

We fell at his feet– there were eleven of us– but he told us to stand up. We asked him what he’d have us do, asking him to give us the power to do what he needed whenever he needed it done.

He gave us the medicines he and his student carried, and told us, “Go back to the city you just came from, the one called ‘the Base.’ Keep on teaching everyone in my name. Give the poor of that town what they need– heal the sick and give rest to the weary and feed the hungry until I give them what’s better, the pearl I told you I’d give them for nothing.”

I asked him, “Hey now, you told us to give up the world and everything in it, so we did. How the heck are we supposed to eat from day to day and somehow feed the poor, too?”

He replied, “Hey, Peter, didn’t you get what I told you? My name is better than any riches, and the Sophia of God is better than any gold, silver or jewels.” He handed over the medicine and said, “Now get to healing.”

I had another question, but I was too nervous to ask, so I elbowed John in the ribs, and said, “you ask him.” He stepped forward and asked, “Sorry, Lord, you make us too nervous to ask too many questions. But you’re asking us to practice medicine when we’ve never been taught how. How in the world are we supposed to do this?”

Lithargoel replied, “You’re absolutely right, John. See, the doctors of this world heal worldly things. The doctors of the soul, though, heal the heart. Heal the bodies first, so that they’ll trust what you say, then heal the sicknesses of their heart.

“Listen, though: those rich people who looked right through me like I wasn’t even there, more interested in money and pride, don’t even bother with them. Don’t hang out at their houses, or hang out with them in general, because I don’t want you influenced by them. A lot of churches have shown favoritism to the rich, but that just leads to sin. Still, judge them fairly, because it’s the right thing to do.” This made sense to us.

So we bowed down in front of him, and he asked us to stand. Then he left us, in peace.

Based on The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles from the Nag Hammadi Library


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