Thursday, June 16, 2016

TREASURE IN HEAVEN


Homily for June 17th, 2016: Matthew 6:19-23.

          At a fund raising dinner for St. Louis University many years ago, the principal speaker was the then Chancellor of the university, Fr. Paul Reinert SJ. “They say you can’t take it with you,” he told the crowd. “But you can send it ahead.” The roar of laughter from the more than five hundred people attending went on for a full minute at least.

          Laugh if you like, but this is what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.”  

          A man of great wealth said once: “Whoever thinks that having a ton of money will make you happy has obviously never had a ton of money.” Jesus speaks about thieves who break in and steal. People of great wealth today have to worry about much more than thieves. If they have children they must hire guards to prevent kidnapping. They cannot keep fixed and regular hours, lest they themselves be waylaid and harmed. They must constantly worry about servants and other employees ripping them off and harming them financially or in other ways.

          “Store up treasure in heaven,” Jesus says. Heavenly treasure cannot be lost. And you will be happy both in this life, and in the life to come. How do we store up treasure in heaven? By doing good to others; by putting God first, others second, and ourselves last; by letting no day pass without spending some time at least with God in prayer. And we don’t need to wait for heaven to receive a reward. People who try to do those things are happy here and now – no exceptions!

Our life here on earth is sometimes compared to the weaving of a tapestry. Those who work on it weave it from the back. They cannot see the pattern, or only dimly. That is because the pattern is visible only from the front.

One day, however, when the Lord calls us home, we’ll see the tapestry from the front. What looks to us now like a tangle of loose ends will be something wonderful. “How beautiful!” we’ll say. And then we’ll ask: “Did I do all that?” And the Lord God will answer: “Well, you did some of it. I did the rest.”