God certainly has a funny way of counting treasure! Listen to what Jesus says:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Many think of treasure as something we accumulate and consume. Our treasure is that cake that we want to eat and have at the same time. We might share some of it, but it’s our own. Treasure is something we measure in terms of how much we have.
|NC Wyeth’s “Jim and the Treasure”|
As it turns out, this is the kind of treasure that thieves steal and moths destroy. In the end, it will let you down.
God measures treasure in a very different way. Treasure is not what he accumulates to himself. Instead, his treasure is the value he adds to someone else. Thieves and moths can’t get at this kind of treasure. And it will never let you down. It is eternal treasure.
We say all the time that God is love. That’s true, but it’s good to really take a look at what that means. Understanding God’s love helps us understand Jesus’ lesson about treasure.
Let’s remember that Jesus Christ is the perfect revelation of God. He is God’s love freely given. Love in the flesh.
Jesus shows us that love is not all moonbeams and stardust. He was born in a barn to meet us on our own turf. That’s quite a comedown from the heavenly courts. But his presence seriously brightened the place up.
He gathered balky, stubborn, and sometimes thickheaded followers and stuck with them despite their irritating habits, power grabs, pushiness, and even betrayal. They were all (well, mostly all) better for it. Being with Jesus made them more than they were before they ever met him.
|Henri de Tououse-Lautrec’s “Prostitutes around a Dinner Table”|
Jesus ate with tax collectors, outcasts, prostitutes, and notorious sinners. This is no way to rack up social status. And some of these meals were probably pretty awkward. Maybe a little exhausting. But all of Jesus’ dinner mates walked away fed by something more than the food on their plates. They had received Jesus himself, somehow.
In the Passion we see that love suffers, grieves, and gives itself–himself–away without counting the cost. All to make us what we cannot make ourselves. Forgiven. Free.
Even the resurrection is not really something Jesus has for himself. He rises on the third day to make us a new creation. Eternal life is not something Jesus grasped for himself. It becomes most fully what it is because he infuses us with it.
Jesus gives his followers eternal treasure. Kingdom treasure. Paradoxically, we take hold of it by letting it go.
The love he gives to us becomes our treasure when we invest it in those around us. Our treasure is the forgiven enemy and the reconciled friend.
Our treasure is the tone of respect that replies condescension and self-righteousness.
Our treasure is the hungry we’ve fed, the illiterate that we’ve educated, and the immigrant for whom we have made a new home.
There is still treasure to discover. The homeless and working poor need access to medical care. Many poor children do not eat when school is not in session. Elderly men and women sit lonely at home and in nursing homes. Many handicapped adults are warehoused and forgotten.
Let’s put our heart and our hands and our feet in such places. Our eternal treasures will abound.
Had to cancel my visitation this week. I’ll reschedule St. David’s, Rayville, soon. This is the gist of what I had prepared for them.