Today’s Gospel: Matthew 6:19-23
Optional Memorial of Saint Romuald, Abbot
Years ago, my wife and I were visiting her elderly aunt. When our conversation turned to money, she told us to start digging in her back yard when she died. She didn’t trust banks and feared that all her money would go to taxes when she passed away. We looked at each other thinking, “Oh boy! This is not good!”
We convinced her that burying money in her yard was not sound fiscal management. We took her outside to dig up what she had already buried. We unearthed a coffee can. She opened it to find hundreds of dollars in moldy, decayed bills. In her effort to protect her savings from outsiders, she had destroyed her own treasure.
Fortunately, this was enough to convince her to find more conventional ways of saving her money. She lapsed into severe dementia soon after that, but family members were able to work with her bankers to manage her savings.
Rather than rotting underground, those dollars paid for her care in her last years.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us about the temporary nature of the physical world. All physical things are subject to loss, destruction, or decay. When you treasure earthly things, your treasure is in peril. Your lovely house can burn down or flood; your car can be stolen, or you can be swindled out of your money and valuables. When you value earthly things, you are settling for the temporary.
Only your treasure in heaven is yours to keep. How often do we actually remember that treasure is there? We become so focused on having the newest, the nicest, and the best that we forget about what waits for us in heaven.
Most of us (myself included) are not really sure how to obtain that treasure. Yes, we may have faith, we may know scripture, we may know and comply with the teachings of the Church. But most of us, if pressed, would have difficulty articulating exactly how our salvation will be obtained.
Yet most of us can rattle off the price of the material things we value, the Zillow price of our house , the amount and number of our car payments, or the price of the newest iPhone. Interestingly, few of us can tell you the hidden costs of these items. How much interest will I pay on this house or car? How much am I paying on phone service over two years to qualify for the subsidized price on this phone?
It’s a clue to the seductive nature of possessions that we often know their price, but seldom their cost.
This passage pivots on the phrase, “Where your treasure is, your heart will also be.” Do you treasure things that distract your attention from God and even from other people?
Lord Jesus, open my heart and mind to your treasures and allow me a place in heaven to store them.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Kirk Whitney