17 June 2011

Spending a heavenly treasure

11th Week OT (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory

Noting the ever-present threat of moths and decay and thieves, Jesus advises his disciples to avoid storing their treasures here on earth. Even well-loved prizes and keepsakes are subject to the wear and tear of gravity, greed, and the occasional, hungry bug. Of course, the question here isn't really about where we ought to store our treasures. By highlighting the possibilities for storing our treasures, Jesus indirectly dares us to question the nature of what it is that we treasure. In other words, by advising us to store up our treasures in heaven and not on earth, Jesus is telling us that anything we could store on earth cannot be a treasure. A true treasure, that which is permanently valuable, cannot be eaten, stolen, or lost to rot, and anything we can lock in a box, hide under a floorboard, or pack into a freezer bag can disappear, will disappear, eventually. What sort of treasure cannot, will not fall apart over time or diminish in value if given away? In fact, what sort of treasure increases in value for you the more you give it away? The only kind of treasure that can be stored in heaven: the favor of God when we follow His Christ in preaching and teaching the Good News, and serving the least of His people. What the Church keeps, we lose; what we spend, we have. 

As creatures intimately bound to the material world, as embodied souls thoroughly subject to space and time and gravity and all those other terribly inconvenient physical realities, it is sometimes difficult, more than difficult at times, to move our thinking and doing beyond the immediate and the proximate and to think and do in terms of the infinite and the eternal. For Christians, still bound to the material world though not of it, our thinking and doing is best focused on The End of Things and the holy pretense of thinking and doing as if The End were here already. What difference does it make to our plans, our investments, our projects if we fake the End Time? Does that sound dishonest? Well, it's what we are supposed to be doing—faking the End Times, that is, living now as if the End were here. Not running around screaming and hoarding food and water but rather setting up our lives as if God's justice already prevails, as if Christ ruled here and now every heart and mind, as if the new heavens and the new earth were set resolutely into their places and were just waiting for us to arrive. 

Living “as if” in this way doesn't mean that we believe the Kingdom of Heaven is some sort of material paradise destined to be manifested by the work of our hands! No. Living “as if” our treasure were storable only in heaven and never on earth means living in full and glorious knowledge that our Lord has won his victory over death and that everything we do is motivated by the living hope that his death and resurrection reveal to us. That's the light that dispels the darkness: the living hope, the daily hope, the hope moment by moment, knowing that God's promises have been fulfilled. Our task—bound to the world but not of it—is to keep the Word, store the Word by freely giving it away; to store up our heavenly treasure by going on a wild spending spree. The more we spend, the more we save!

Pic credit:  Bonkas

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  1. GayMarie Kurdi3:00 PM

    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my pastor, Msr. Henry Petter, but I would love to hear you preach every Sunday!

  2. Ahhhh, you're very kind. I do enjoy preaching!