Cycle [C] 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis. 18:6-9; Heb. 11:1-2, 8-19; Lk. 12:32-48

Today’s readings are closely connected. They all talk about faith and trust in God. The first reading recalls how God has used His power to protect and save His people. The second reading is an explanation about faith, using Abraham as the concrete example. The Gospel is invitation to trust God and cast out all fear. 

Jesus' instructions on how to be ready for the coming judgment continue in the stories and sayings found in today's Gospel. The way to be ready for the coming judgment is to be watchful. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about watchfulness to begin making this point. We must be like servants waiting for the master's return from a wedding banquet. We must be watchful so that even if the master comes after midnight, we will be ready for him. Hence it is important to set our

priorities in life.

Jesus said to his disciples, “Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” 

A person’s heart is tied to what he values most in life. Jesus spoke of this truth when He stated, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes was able to sneak himself into the house of Irene Adler to find a picture of her with the king of Bohemia.

To find the picture, which poses a risk of scandal for the king, Sherlock instructs Watson to throw a smoke bomb through the window, prompting the warning call of “fire!” Irene Adler exposes the hidden place of the picture since she runs to the exact place where the picture is kept.

In this way, Holmes was able to discover the location of the hidden picture since “when a woman thinks that her house is on fire, her instinct is at once to rush to the thing which she values most”.

People will inevitably reveal what they value most by their actions. Irene Adler’s most valuable possession was the picture of her with the king of Bohemia, which was linked to her safety and reputation.

Other people may value money more than anything and will go to great lengths to secure and gain more riches. For many people, their success or family is the most valued treasure of their lives, which is revealed in how they spend their time and energy.

Therefore, Jesus’ statement that “where your treasure is there your heart is also” means that what a person values and loves the most in life will influence how they live.

A person with a heart set on worldly pleasures and riches will live in pursuit of earthly treasure while the person who values Christ above all else will stay focused on eternity and store up treasures in Heaven.

The movie, The Mummy, and a character called Beni show how greed can destroy a man. Toward the end of the movie, when they find the great treasure room, Beni had lost all sense of control and is controlled by the riches and wealth present amongst them.  Beni had visions of living the life of luxury and being the wealthiest man in the world. Something happened in the temple, and the money room began to fill up with sand, and the door closed so they could not escape. Beni had the opportunity to get out, but the power of the riches and wealth were his downfall. He attempted to fill his pockets and drag out bags filled with gold, which were too heavy. Eventually the door closed, and Beni was trapped amongst all those jewels and riches, never to see the light of day again and never able to use the riches he deemed so valuable. The power of those riches controlled him, and they were the cause of his death. Let us not get to the end of our lives having pursued the wealth and riches of this world only to realize that we pursued and were controlled by the wrong things.

Undivided loyalty to the Lord is needed if a believer will live a God-glorifying life. To live for earthly treasure is foolish and a waste of precious life. Instead, believers who have their hearts set on Christ will joyfully live for Jesus on earth and impact eternity.

COVID has taught us that life can change within the blink of an eye. Those things that we have devoted endless hours into building and attaining can be stripped away from us within an instant. We can do everything we can to create a type of security in life, but the truth is, everything in this life is temporary. 

We are taught about the importance of not having attachments in this world. And yet we still struggle with this. After all living in a natural world, we were designed to crave security and affection. Because of this, we often direct this drive in the wrong places.

We work endless hours in an attempt to build financial security. We expect our relationships to fulfill our deepest longings for adoration. And while these things are certainly not wrong within themselves. But it’s healthy, every now and then, to stop and reflect on our motives. 

It is not too difficult to think of examples of men and women who have laid up for themselves treasures upon the earth, thus showing where their heart truly was. 

The story of Achan (Joshua7:1) in the Book Joshua reminds us about this. God instructed the children of Israel to attack Jericho, to abstain from the accursed things, and to bring all the silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron to be consecrated to the Lord into the treasury of the Lord. Now as they attack Jericho, one of the men disobeys the command of the Lord and keeps for himself a beautiful Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing 50 pounds. Because of this man’s sin, Israel was defeated at the battle of Ai, and this man was put to death because his heart coveted after these riches instead of honoring the Lord and doing as He had asked.

Another example is the Story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). In this story, a man and his wife sold a possession, brought the money to the apostles, and laid it at their feet. But when they brought their money to the apostles, Ananias and Sapphira lied, saying they had brought all the money they had made from selling this possession. But in fact, they had kept back some for themselves. Peter accuses Ananias of lying to God, and at that moment, Ananias falls to his death. The same thing happens to his wife, who also lies to God. 

When Jesus talked about the Kingdom of Heaven, He referred to a multi-faceted concept, and these treasures to which He refers are related to the eternal Kingdom.  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away… So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”. The gifts of the Spirit, like goodness and gentleness, will last forever. Characteristics and behaviors shaped by the character of God through the Holy Spirit will carry over into the eternal Kingdom. 

Jesus concluded His teaching by saying, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded."  In other words, we will have to give a greater accountability before God than others.