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Earthly and Heavenly Treasure
Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. I trust you. Those who hope in you shall not be disappointed. Lord, make me know your ways. Lord, teach me your paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior (excerpts from Psalm 25).
- Earthly Treasure: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.” God created man for greatness, so it is true to our nature to seek greatness. In the world, greatness often means financial prosperity and its usual accompaniment of earthly possessions. It is not immoral to be wealthy, as long as it is accrued ethically and its use includes the good of others. But if earthly possessions become the ultimate goal of our happiness, then we miss out on the treasure God desires for us. This treasure is God himself. We are called to trust, not in our wealth or comforts, but in God’s providence. St. Paul explains, “I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
- Heavenly Treasure: “But store up treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.” The heavenly treasure Jesus spoke of is a reward for those who have lived their lives virtuously as a preparation for eternity. And we can experience a taste of these treasures here and now, as we grow in our relationship with God. The Catechism explains, “The human virtues (Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, Temperance) are rooted in the theological virtues (Faith, Hope, Charity), which adapt man’s faculties for participation in the divine nature: for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object (CCC 1812).” Simply put, “The goal of the virtuous life is to become like God” (St. Gregory of Nyssa).
- Where Is Your Heart?: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Consider that our hearts are like bank vaults where we keep our treasure. To adequately discern how much value we put on our treasure, both earthly and heavenly, we ponder what it is we love and what we would do if we lost it. If wealth was taken away, would we keep our faith in God’s providence? If we lost our health or the health of a loved one, would we continue to hope in God’s goodness? If any of our less tangible earthly treasures (reputation, relationships, social standing) were compromised, would we walk in justice, prudence, fortitude, and temperance as God’s trusting child, forgiving and giving to those who oppose us? Our Lord is presenting a very sobering teaching to help us discern if we are on the narrow road that leads to life (see Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus, the light of the world, leads the way to all treasure, both earthly and heavenly. Are we following him?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I love many things, but I want to love you above them all. I know I am to love the Giver more than the many temporal and spiritual gifts you have given me. Come Holy Spirit and show me what I am to do to remain in your light.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will spend at least fifteen minutes pondering what I love most in light of this Gospel message. If I find that I am too attached to something, I will ask you through the Holy Spirit to place me back on the right path toward the Father, my heavenly treasure. Blessed Mother, take my hand.
For Further Reflection: Consider reading the Catechism Article 7: The Virtues.
Nan Balfour is an events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic Evangelization Ministry that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter him so as to live in hope as pilgrims in daily life. She is also a mother, writer, and speaker on Catholic topics.