19th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
August 7, 2022
Jesus teaches us how to build the heavenly purse and to gain eternal treasure, and it is by giving up our earthly wealth in almsgiving. There is a real connection between worldly possessions and heavenly treasure. Yet, the relation is not linear. The more generous we are with , the bigger our heavenly treasure chest, and the bigger eternal treasure we receive. The principle is simple, but the practice is often extremely tough. There are several reasons for this.
The first reason is the ‘possessive mentality’. We say, “wealth is hard earned, and why should I share it to others.” It is true that many of us work hard and often sacrifice a lot in the process. Because we earn them, we should be the one who keep and spend them. To let someone else to easily have our money or possessions just does not feel right. While it is true that we have the right to spend our hard-earned wealth the way we want it, this right is not absolute. We need to remember that eventually everything we have here including our lives and possessions are God’s gifts. Since our wealth is a gift we receive, we shall pass it forward also as gift to those who need it.
The second reason, related to the first one, is giving our possessions to others is hurting us. As we earn money and acquire things for ourselves, we begin to believe that these are mine, we possess these things. Yet, in reality, our possessions ‘possess’ us. We become attached to them, and to let them go turns to be difficult and hurting us. Our wealth gives us comfort, security and pleasures, and all that give us pleasure is potentially addictive. When we are addicted to our wealth, the harder it is to share. Yet, to overcome the addiction, the more we need to let go. Thus, the pain of giving is natural consequence of healing from greed.
The third reason is that we tend to be suspicious of others. We have this mindset that people are poor or are asking our help because they are lazy, or these persons are just going to scam us. While the idea contains certain degree of veracity, the reality is more complex. For one reason or another, some people just stumble upon terrible situations, and they need it our help. Some people were born in miserable conditions, and nothing they do can alleviate their misery. Some people just do know how to help themselves. While it is true that they are people who do not deserve our charity, but it does not mean all people who are in need are fake. Here, we need to be prudent rather than to stop helping all together.
Jesus concludes His teaching beautifully, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also [Luk 12:34].” If our treasure, our ambition, our goal of life is earthly possessions, our hearts, our souls, and our lives will stay on earth. When the earth passes, we will pass also with it. Yet, if our treasure, our priority, our end of life is heavenly gifts, our hearts and our souls will move also to eternal life.
Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP