19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Francis)
“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” This is an extremely important line in today’s Gospel. It tells us that what we treasure will control our hearts. What we value will determine the way that we live. This is so important because we do not have enough time and energy to treasure all things equally. We therefore need to make decisions for what we will place first, what we will value most, what our treasure will be.
I do not think that most of us go from day to day conscious of our treasure. I think we move along trying to do everything. Then, when our time or our energy run short, we end up responding to that which speaks the loudest or to that which seems most attractive. We do not necessarily choose what is most important. Work is important but is it the highest value in our life? Money is essential but should we set that above everything else? Popularity and influence are good but are they worth having at any price? We need to know what it is that we value. We need to be conscious of our treasure.
How do you find out what your treasure is? Take your calendar or your smartphone and examine it. See where you have been placing your time over the last six months. To what do you give your time? How much to work? How much to friends? How much to yourself? Where your time is there will your heart be also. Take out your checkbook or look at last year’s tax return? Where is your money going? How much to your own comfort? How much to your family? How much to those in need? Where your money is there will your heart be also. Examine the data at your fingertips. Roll through your rolodex. Check out your address book in your email. Look at the family schedule on the refrigerator. Notice which web pages you bookmark. Where you place your energy and attention, your heart will follow.
If in these exercises you discover that your heart has been given to something rather secondary, to something that is not worthy, then the gospel calls you to invest in a treasure that will last, a treasure that cannot be stolen or destroyed.
How do we secure such a treasure? In two simple but somewhat contradictory choices: a choice for love and a choice for detachment.
I think most of us in our heart of hearts know that love is necessary to build a lasting treasure. The love we give to others is something eternal. The time and energy that we give to our children, our spouses and our friends, even to strangers will not die. I can witness to this from personal experience. I have been privileged to be with people at the moment of death. I will tell you in those last hours the only thing that matters is love. Nothing else has importance. It is the pride parents feel in their children, the years that someone has shared with a spouse, the good times and the intimacies that have been shared between friends which count. When the heart is given to love, when love is its treasure, then the heart is at peace. Even in the face of death, the heart knows that it possesses something which time cannot destroy.
The second way to secure a lasting treasure is detachment. This at first seems contradictory to love. Love reaches out and holds on, whereas detachment lets go and sets free. But the deepest of love always involves detachment. It realizes that no human love, however deep, will stay the same. The deepest love of a parent includes enough detachment to let go of his or her children so that they might develop their own lives. The deepest love of a spouse carries enough detachment that life can go on even when death intervenes. The deepest moments of friendship contain enough detachment to allow cherished memories to fade without regret.
Love without detachment can become manipulative and stifling. Love that is willing to let go is freeing. It does not seek to control and realizes that every human love, no matter how deep, is only a reflection of a greater love. God alone can satisfy us forever.
Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. So give your hearts to love, and love with detachment. In this way you may savor as deeply as possible every person whom you love and at the same time realize that no matter how deep that love is, you will in time need to let it go. Loving deeply and letting go will not betray us. They will lead us to the deepest love—the love of God who alone is our treasure. Amen.
Fr. A. Francis HGN