Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!’
Jesus said to his disciples: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
What do you consider to be the most important, most valuable thing in your life? What do you feel you could never live without? What do you treasure above everything else? These are undoubtedly much harder questions than they first appear.
When I am preparing couples for their wedding day we spend time talking through the promises they are going to make each other. We talk of the all-inclusiveness of those familiar words: for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. I also, at some point remind them that, on their wedding day, they will be publicly declaring that there will never be anyone more important in their lives than the person who is standing next to them as they say those words. Fair enough, you might well be thinking. But … then come the children!
Suddenly there is a ‘conflict of interest’. Children are, for the most part, born out of a couple’s love for each other. But, where do they sit in terms of importance and value? They are small and vulnerable, they are the couple’s own creation, they represent the future. It is often said: Our children are the most important things in our lives. But … what about the promises made before God and witnesses on the day of each couple’s marriage?
This reflection is not about the conflicts that arise in marriage, but this issue demonstrates how easy it is to find ourselves drifting away from Jesus’ teaching about that which we treasure. Whether our treasure can be identified as our spouse, our children or our bank accounts, we need to understand how wrong and distant from God those priorities make us.
In today’s reading Jesus is writing us a prescription for a healthy and productive life that is rooted in a strong relationship with God. It is not an easy pill to swallow. This prescription is going to give us moments of conflict and doubt. It may even leave us in times of great fear and uncertainty. But … if we can steel ourselves to take this medicine we will come to know the certainty of a joy beyond all measure.
Jesus is not calling us to neglect earthly responsibilities, but he is calling us to keep them in perspective. Jesus is still calling us to love and serve in his name. He is also calling us to put that, and therefore our relationship with God, before all else.
Let us pray for the strength to keep our priorities in good order. Let us pray that we might love and serve our fellow human beings above our bank balances and other worldly possessions. Let us pray that we might be healthy and vibrant members of Christ’s body on earth.
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