‘there your heart will be also’ (Luke 12:34)
A familiar adage urges, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Many of us like to think that we do precisely that. Our resources follow our commitments, or so we believe. Actually, however, we almost always do precisely the opposite. Our strongest commitments generally follow where we choose to invest our substance.
Almost no one puts money in the stock market because of an innate personal interest in its ups and downs. Instead, we become avid followers of the market precisely to the extent that we put our money there. Similarly, few give time or money to the church as a result of interest in its political intrigues. Rather, we become passionately involved in church politics to the very degree that what we value is connected to the church. Jesus puts it this way: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).
Investing oneself in pursuit of a vision can also can lead to strong personal commitment. In a time and place in which children are the guarantee of one’s immortality, Abram treasures above all else the hope of having countless offspring. “No one but your very own issue shall be your heir” is a promise he values above all others. “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them,” Abram is inspired. “So shall your descendants be” (Gen. 15:4-6).
In today’s gospel, Jesus urges disciples to value above everything the spread of the kingdom. “Sell your possessions,” he counsels, “and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33). It is only when Christians place all that they have in the service of the coming of the kingdom that it becomes our overriding commitment. Doing that makes us fully ready to receive it. “Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes,” promises the Lord. “[T]ruly I tell you, he will fasten his belt and have them sit down to eat, and he will come and serve them” (12:37).
When we spend all our time and our energy chasing after money, then money naturally becomes our overriding value. And when we devote all our money to selfish pursuits, personal comfort becomes our idol. When we invest ourselves in the spread of the kingdom, however, our commitment becomes faithfulness to God’s will.
Look It Up
Jesus observes that “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24). How does this relate to today’s readings?
Think About It
Members of religious orders typically take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. How are these promises related to their preparation for the kingdom?