Friday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time – Mt 6:19-23
In today’s Gospel, Jesus issues a stern warning about material wealth and placing our trust in it. We can see this warning as both prohibiting us and encouraging us.
It is clear that Jesus is prohibiting us from excessively focusing on material goods; it’s worth noting that everyone is called to be poor, at least spiritually. In the Catechism (915) we read that “Christ proposes the evangelical counsels [meaning, poverty, chastity, and obedience] to every disciple,” meaning, to everyone. The point of the counsels is to help remove the obstacles to loving God and our neighbors perfectly, and it’s often the case that riches prevent us from loving as we ought. Notice Jesus doesn’t say that it’s evil to have things; rather, it is placing our trust in them and being too attached to them that isevil. These material goods only last for a time; God is the only good that is all good, and that will be around forever. Only He is worthy of our choice.
We can also re-read Christ’s warning as something positive: by not placing our hope in material things, we allow God to be God, as it were, and open ourselves to the infinite wonders of His charity and providence. A good example of this can be found in the life of Saint Joseph Cottolengo, an Italian priest known for his trust in Providence. His charitable works ran entirely on divine providence, and one day the house was completely out of money and in desperate need of food. The sister in charge reported the situation to the saint, and also announced that she had saved one coin. As soon as the sister had handed Cottolengo the coin, he threw it out the nearest open window and remarked, “There. Now we have absolutely nothing, and Divine Providence will have to provide.” Sure enough, that night a donation came that not only meet their needs but also far surpassed them. Many accounts of the event note that the sister pulled the coin “from her bosom,” meaning, near her heart. She trusted in her coin, and not in her God, a God who has no need of banks and financing to meet the needs of His servants. We can ask ourselves: what do we place our trust in? In our wealth, in our work, or more intangible things, like our talents, our looks, our intelligence, our skills? Do we let God be God in our lives, or do we try to put something else there? Where is our treasure?
Today, let us ask, through the intercession of Mary, who was a poor woman on earth yet the Queen of Heaven, for the grace to store up our treasure in heaven and in God alone.