Friday, June 17, 2011

Treasure in Heaven

Today's Gospel (Matthew 6: 19-23) is a command to all of us to make sure we have our priorities straight. So many people have investment planners, accountants, "life coaches", and all sorts of others who are employed to help them make sure they are able to enjoy "the good life". But this good life is a fantasy. There are no guarantees that the money you invest today will be there tomorrow. Just ask any who had money invested in real estate in the past five years!
And yet we spend so much time and money trying to guarantee what can never be a sure thing. The only sure thing, according to the Lord, is storing up treasures in heaven. So, just how do we do that? What are the "treasures" we store up in heaven, and how can we be sure we are accomplishing this? I think the easiest way to try and think about these treasures is to compare them to the "good will" that we speak of in human terms. Whenever someone does something that is, shall we say, altruistic (meaning that they do something good even there is no perceived benefit to them) we say that they have generated "good will". Whether you speak in a formal way about "philanthropy" or in the everyday parlance of being a "good person", we all have the experience of how this sort of intangible treasure presents itself.
So we need to examine our lives and see how we treat people. The common idea of "looking out for number one" goes completely against the goal of storing up treasure in heaven. We need to be more concerned about others than ourselves. Let me give you an example. During this week, youth from my parish have been camping out at the parish complex and participating in a "Work Camp". They have been performing manual labor here and working on projects that they chose. They landscaped in front of the church, built a beautiful patio, installed new signs, painted and in general helped make our campuses look beautiful. These teens took an entire week out of their summer vacation to give back to their parish, working from morning to evening. And they were great! The only reward they received was the satisfaction of doing something good for the Church. Each and every one of them have been storing up treasure in heaven this week. And they have loved doing it!
I would hope that we could all take time and see how we can imitate these youth. Perhaps a food kitchen could use our help. Perhaps a home-bound neighbor could use a visit. Maybe we could donate some time to babysit so that harried parents could get an evening out. The possibilities are endless if we simply use our imagination and creativity. And by doing so we may not receive anything in return. At least not now. But, as the Lord assures us, we will be storing up treasure in heaven, where it really counts!

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