Today's gospel reading reminds us that "where your treasure is, there you heart will be." In other words, that which we long to possess above and beyond why they were made, is what will rune our heart, and often at the expense of our salvation. In today's gospel, Jesus speaks to, or rather warns his disciples about earth treasures, and at first sight, it may appear that Jesus was telling them that they should reject all earthly possessions. But is this what Jesus is telling his disciples? Is he telling them that they should reject all earthly goods?
At a closer look at today's gospel passage, we will see that Jesus begins by contrasting the goods of this earth with the goods of heaven, as he tells his disciples, "do not store up for yourself treasures on earth, where moths and decay will destroy, and thieves break in and steal, but rather, store up in heaven treasures that neither moth, nor decay can destroy, nor thieves steal. Now I don't know about the rest of the world, butr certainly here in Trinidad, where there has been an upsurge in crime, many can identify with the distress that comes with being robbed, and having had your possessions, be it your car, jewellery, money or what ever it might be, forcibly taken away from you. Unfortunately, what determines your attraction to the possession that was stolen or your dominance by it, will be the response after such an incident.
Based on what Jesus says in today's gospel reading, we can and should ask ourselves, when does the use of materialism become an issue? When does material gain become a problem? And the answer is - it is when we become attached to them, when we feel that we cannot live without them, when we place our trust in them, when they become more important to us that people, when we begin to become envious of the possessions of others and start the "keep up with the Jones" game; when they become more important to us that God himself, If we fall anywhere within this sphere where our material possessions are concerned, then know that we have a problem. That is when we begin to slide down the precipice of materialism and will begin to lose site of what really matters, and ultimately, our salvation. The psalmist says, "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." In poverty or plenty, this should be our song as well.
So exactly what should be our reaction to earthly possessions? Well they were meant to serve our physical needs and those around us and not to control our desires and our lives. The very same holds true for our relationships - since we can also have very serious issues here as well. Our relationships were meant to be us journeying with others - daughters, sons, our children, our spouse, our neighbours, friends, co-workers, the old man at the street corner - all of these are meant to relationships where first and foremost, we journey with the other, helping them - him or her - into eternal life. But too often, the same kind of dominance takes place here as do with materialism; sometimes it is actually worse, where the person with whom we are in relations with dominates our lives, makes themselves into gods and may cause you to lose site of you real purpose.
If acquiring material gains dominates our lives, then the words of Jesus are for us. Jesus invites us to place all the material goods and possessions within the larger context or rather, alongside the things of heaven. In Matthew 16:26 Jesus also tells us, warns us, "What good will it be for a man to gain the whole world, but yet lose his soul? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?" This passage as well as today's, challenges us to bring to order, our desires for the things of this world. We must therefore keep constantly in mind that we are all destined for eternal life, and that should be our prime focus. AS lovely and as attractive as the things of this world may by, they will not last.
Our world is in a rapid spiral decay towards decadence and immorality and packages this in a way that appears to be quite attractive, but this is really a thief in disguise who has come to rob us of our eternal life. Let your desire be for the things of heaven rather than the things of the earth. Again, the Word of God tells us, "Seek first the kingdom of Heaven and all you need will be added on to you." As we ponder on today's reading and the words of Jesus, may our eyes be opened to the truths of this passing world in which we all live. May our hearts burn within us for the things of heaven, that which is eternal, and with our whole hearts, minds, souls and strength, may we go after these for the "spirit brings life, the flesh has nothing to offer."
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