My Beloved the benevolent
In our last letter, we discussed Christ’s warning to us: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” Matt.6:19 and the dangers of caring about earthly treasures because these treasures are only temporary; which one can lose at any moment for various reasons. They also make a person pre-occupied with what is earthly. And makes us forget that we can’t take anything with us after death as we learned from the parable of the rich man whose land yielded plentifully. Being pre-occupied with earthly matters deprives us of caring for the needy. The luxuries of life harden a person’s heart and makes it more difficult to feel the suffering of the poor and needy. Which is what happened with the rich man who did not feel the suffering of Lazarus who was poor and sick, laying at the gates of his castle, for the rich man would see him and not care. Caring about earthly matters makes a person fall into the sin of greed, which leads to bickering and tensions even between brothers because of inheritance or other earthly matters. Thus, Christ warned against greed when a man asked Him to ask his brother to divide their inheritance. Also, caring for earthly treasures deprives a person of caring about the heavenly, because the heart remains clinging to the earthly; thus, Christ said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other, you cannot serve God and mammon.” Matt. 6:24
Caring for earthly matters makes a person dishonest in his offerings; as the accepted offering is the one from a pure heart, and good and honest intentions. The story of Ananias and Sapphira offers us an example of offering with an impure heart. For they sold their land and brought its proceeds to the apostle’s feet as many benevolent in the church used to do at the time, like Barnabas, as it was said about him, “…having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:37 Ananias and Saphira did as Barnabas had done outwardly, but on the inside, there was a big difference. For they sold the land but held on to their earthly treasure, thus embezzling some of the money. They wanted to keep the outward appearance of giving, but keep some of the money from the land. Thus, St. Peter rebuked Ananias on his act saying, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not your own? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” Acts 5:3-4
It was not expected of Ananias and Saphira to sell their land, for this was an optional act. Also, they could have offered a portion of the price of the land and not the whole price. But they offered it as if it was the whole amount, because their love of money did not depart their heart. The story of Ananias and Saphira reminds us of the story of Lot’s wife when she left Sodom with her body, but her heart was still clinging to it, thus when she looked back, she became a pillar of salt. Gen.19:26
The importance of treasures in heaven: Christ the Lord invites us to treasure for ourselves treasures in heaven, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matt. 6:20 Christ our Lord does not only ask us not to treasure for ourselves earthly treasure, but to treasure heavenly ones. Treasure, money, possessions or wealth are not good or evil in and of themselves, but it is in how we use them. The rich person could be using his wealth to provide for others and fulfill the needs of the needy, so he transfers his treasure from the earth to heaven.
- To be able to lay up treasures in heaven, our hearts have to be in heaven. As Christ the Lord has said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt. 6:21 St. Paul the apostle commands us, “if then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth.”Col.3:1-2
- Seeking the heavenly frees us from worrying about what is earthly, and rather to trust that God will fulfill our needs as long as we do our work honestly. “For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matt. 6:32 Truly, each one of us should account for his expenses and take care of his household, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of is household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.: 1Tim. 5:8 But do not worry about the future and do not worry about lack of resources, for the One who blessed the five loaves and the two fish will bless our work and bless those whom we are responsible for. Thus, He invited us to “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt. 6:34
May God grant us to lay up for ourselves heavenly treasures and use our resources in doing good deeds and helping the needy, so that we may have an inheritance with all those who are benevolent and have a pure heart. May the Lord bless your offerings supporting Santa Verena Charity programs, which helps you treasure for yourself heavenly treasures.