Readings: 2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20, Ps. 132:11-14,17-18, Matthew 6:19-23

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:19-20)

Today’s readings call for a sober reflection on the transient nature of power, riches and other resources we often consider as treasures. Athaliah rose to power after wiping out an entire family. For a brief period, she felt like a god, but when the right heir to the throne was installed, the same guards who once protected her led her to execution. Nothing is permanent on this side of eternity. Recently, a once-thriving commercial bank in Nigeria crashed, and the country’s deposit insurance cooperation announced they would refund a certain maximum amount. In other words, anyone who has deposited more than that amount has a higher chance of losing their money or its value. This is just one example of the reality Jesus brings to light in today’s Gospel passage. What is the way forward? How can we secure our treasures?

- Identify your treasures. The fact that people place value on something does not make it a treasure. It is not a treasure if it can decay (lose value or depreciate) or be stolen from you. It is not a treasure if it will not follow you to the grave (if it cannot be buried with you). Jesus warns: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19). In other words, stop trying to secure what cannot be secured.

- St. John writes: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17). In other words, the treasures in heaven, which we secure through our faith and good deeds, are eternal. They are the ones that truly matter and will never fade away.

- True treasures can only be found in heaven. Jesus continues: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:20). According to Jim Reeves, “This world is not my own, and I am just passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” True wealth is not about how much money you have but whether you have a ticket to heaven. No wonder Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36).

- We cannot deceive ourselves regarding our treasures. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21). What occupies your thoughts most of the time? How often do you think of heaven? When did you last deposit in heaven’s bank by performing an act of kindness? Remember that on the last day, Jesus will say: “When I was hungry, did you give me food to eat or water to drink? Did you clothe me when you saw me naked? Did you give me shelter, visit me when I was sick or put in prison?” (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Henceforth, do not let a day pass without making a deposit. Do something for someone. That money you keep in the bank, your gold, your silver, your beautiful cars, and all these things will fail you one day, but your act of kindness today will be remembered forever.

- Do not kill anyone for the sake of the fleeting things of this world. The story of Athaliah confirms Jesus’ statement to Peter on the night of his arrest: “Those who kill by the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). Jesus says that the eye is the lamp of the body. In other words, your life is determined by what you see (the things you focus on). If your eyes are sound (fix your gaze on heaven), your body will be light.

- St. Aloysius Gonzaga is a shining example of one who stored his treasures in heaven. St Aloysius was the eldest son of a Mantuan nobleman, and his father intended him to be a soldier. Aloysius renounced his birthright in favour of his brother and, at 16, became a Jesuit novice in Rome, living a life of severe austerity and penance. In 1591, a plague epidemic broke out in Rome, and the Jesuits opened a hospital to care for the sick. Aloysius, still a novice, worked hard in the hospital until he caught the plague. He died at midnight on the 20th of June with the name of Jesus on his lips.

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, teach us to love you with all our heart, mind and soul and to build our treasures only in heaven. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God’s abundant blessings be upon us all. (Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious. Bible Study: 2 Kings 11:1-4,9-18,20, Ps. 132:11-14,17-18, Matthew 6:19-23).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu