YES – our destiny is more than what we have here!
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:19-23, Jesus tells His disciples:
”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
The necessities of life: good food, decent clothing, adequate housing, safe environments, across the life span health care, freedom from unjust socio-economic systems, fulfilling work, educational opportunities, religious freedom, the right to life from conception to natural death … these and many others are human rights that we ought to have and rejoice in, but they are not the end all. We are called to more! That more is the fullness of life that only God can give and does give to those who give themselves over to Him. Our ultimate destiny is life forever in the loving embrace of God.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:7-15, we are told to address God as Father. Isn’t that absolutely mind boggling! We are to address God, our Creator – the Creator of heaven and earth and all that is, universe upon universe, as Father. We who are nothing, so to speak, are to address God , who is everything , using intimate language. This invitation by Jesus, Himself God, shows us how much we are loved. We are not slaves or servants or playthings or useless objects … no … we are beloved sons and daughters of a loving Father. We are … I am … special, unique, loved and treasured by My Father.
Sounds outrageous! Sounds impossible! But that is precisely what Jesus commands. Reflect on today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:43-48:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father ….”
Obviously, Jesus is not talking about some kind of romantic love or some fuzzy, sentimental love. Jesus is talking about consciously seeking the good of our enemies. His teaching might be summarized as
- Justice – YES
- Revenge – NO
- Love – ALWAYS
We have a right to justice but we do not have a right to slander or destroy our enemies. We must not only pray for them (and for ourselves for right healing) but we must choose their good. Difficult! Beyond us – YES – but possible with the grace of God. And we must pray for that grace.
Jesus gives us a great insight into what integrity is all about in today’s Gospel, Matthew 5:33-37.
“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Integrity means that one’s ‘inside’ and one’s ‘outside’ match. Another way of saying it is that there is harmony between what one ‘thinks’ and one’s ‘actions’. It’s even better if there is oneness in one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. We are, of course, speaking about what is ‘good’ and not what is ‘evil.’ Unfortunately, many of us live with a disconnect between our thoughts, feelings and actions. A movement towards integration of self exists when we move towards connectedness.