6.22.18 Fri.. wk. 11 – Ordinary Time (II)
2nd book of Kings 11: 1 – 4, 9 – 18, 20
Gospel of Matthew 6: 19 – 23
Jesus said to his disciples: “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. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness. And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy The Treasures Stored in Heaven
Throughout the “Sermon on the Mount’, †Jesus taught His disciples the way of Holiness, which began with the Beatitudes, continued with teachings on the moral issues – anger and lust and revenge. Then †Jesus taught the three pillars of discipleship, prayer, fasting and almsgiving. †Jesus taught them His personal prayer – ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church – “†Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us: ‘how to ask’. Before the gift is given, †Jesus commits Himself to the ONE – who in giving – gives Himself.” (CCC, 2604) †Jesus expressed this in His prayer to the Father: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. (Matt. 6:10) Now again – continuing from the Catechism: ‘The Giver (the Father) is more precious than the gift. He is the treasure; in Him – abides His Son’s heart.” (ibid)
In today’s passage from ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, †Jesus taught: “Store up for yourselves treasure in heaven where neither moth, nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be”. (Matt.6:21)
Lastly in ‘The Sermon on the Mount’, †Jesus continues His teaching about the necessity of conversion of heart. We are to reconcile with others before presenting our offering at the altar. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are to pray to our heavenly Father in secret, not with many pious words as the pagans do, but from the truth of our heart. Purity of heart, seeking the Kingdom of God, must come before all else. Our conversion of heart must always be directed to the Father – because ‘Union with God’ is the treasure that our heart must seek. Everything we accomplish in life must be directed to our greatest treasure – the Honor and Glory of God, in thanksgiving to the Father for all the blessings that He has given to us. That is the treasure we must protect, the treasure of our faith in God.
What is the greatest barrier to this treasure? The greatest barrier to this treasure – ‘to conversion of heart’ is worldly distraction. When we look to accumulate treasure here on earth, it betrays the true focus of our heart. We don’t seek the glory and honor of God – or the accomplishment of His Will – but rather – we seek our glory and honor. Our treasure becomes us – when we allow the distractions of the world to direct us. Our treasure is us. Again from the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “A distraction reveals to us what we are attracted to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for Him and lead us resolutely to offer Him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle – the choice of which master to serve.” (CCC, 2729)
Within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, there is what is called: “The contemplation of the Two Standards”. And St. Ignatius contrasts the army of Satan with the army of Christ and he asks the question: under which banner, or which flag, or which standard will you live? According to this contemplation, “ponder how (Satan) lays traps for people to enslave them by tempting them to covet riches and despise poverty. This greed then leads to a desire for the honors of the world. This hunger for honors then leads to a pride that finds no room for God.” (http://www.magisspirituality.org/apex_reflections/xx-the-two-standards/) So that’s where the evildoer wants to lead us – to focus on our self to where we are ‘the treasure’ – that’s to follow the standard of Satan.
When faced with this option for riches and honor – Thomas More and John Fisher – our two saints today – chose the Father in Heaven’ as their treasure. Nothing on earth – not even their lives were treasured more – because that’s where their hearts were.
We too are called to choose the ‘Standard of Christ’, which St. Ignatius describes as “The simplicity of the camp and the attractive appearance of Christ and the beauty of His Words, as He sends out His disciples to spread the Good News to all people. He recommends to His followers that they seek spiritual poverty and perhaps – even material poverty. He then encourages them to seek the will of the Lord alone, even if this means being insulted and hated. No longer living to please the world, they come to true humility – from which flow all other virtues.” (ibid)
This is the heart of almsgiving and charity that †Jesus speaks of in the Gospel. Each gift – whether it is our time, our talent or our treasure – must be seen as a gift to the Father – who is the True Treasure of our life. This is the goal of our giving of our self. We will never hesitate or count the cost of what we are giving because it is treasure stored in heaven – our heart united with the Heart of the Greatest Giver of all.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.