You can’t write a cheque in heaven- Friday, 11th Week in ordinary time – Mt 6:19-23

You can’t write a cheque in heaven- Friday, 11th Week in ordinary time – Mt 6:19-23

Sometime ago I read an interesting comparison between the grave of King Tutankhamun and Jesus. Tutankhamun was only nine years old when he became king of Egypt during the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom (c. 1332–1323 B.C.E.)  At age 18, when he died, his sarcophagus (a box-like stone container) held not one but three coffins.

The outer two coffins were crafted in wood and covered in solid gold along with many semiprecious stones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.   Five thousand three hundred and ninety eight items were found in the tomb, including a gold face mask, thrones, archery bows, trumpets, a lotus chalice, food, wine, sandals, and fresh linen underwear.

Jesus died at the age of 33. His body had been placed in a hewn rock. When the disciples discovered His tomb it was empty, there was no body, just some linen cloths.  King Tut had entered eternal life without his treasure; he had to leave them all behind. Jesus on the other hand came to give us eternal life by giving us His very life.

The Sermon on the Mount continues to instruct us as to how we should love God with all our heart, strength and mind.  Today’s Gospel examines the issue of how the love of wealth can distract our gaze away from God’s love to our earthly treasures. Make no mistake; there is absolutely no condemnation in the Bible of wealth per se. As I have often said, we should never make a virtue of poverty. Poverty is an evil, plain and simple and every effort must be made to eradicate it from society. The Bible does not condemn the possession of wealth but certainly condemns the love of it.

Jesus contrasts the importance of storing “treasures in heaven” over “treasure on earth”. The operative word is store or hoard. Some of us are fortunate to be blessed with wealth. This may be a consequence of our hard work or simply that which was inherited. In either case this wealth which we have must enable generosity and that too not in some small measure but enough to make a significant change in the life of another human being or in society.

Many years ago a rather wealthy but stingy CEO defended his contribution to charity by justifying his giving as being ‘within his means’. This prompted others to question if it was from his means on meanness? The problem with hoarding wealth is that it never ends; our so called needs then become our unending greed and no matter how much we have, it’s never enough.

When greed begins to set in our heart and mind, then our sight deviates from the Lord, for as Jesus says, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be. “ If Jesus is our treasure then our mind will be on Him, if not we will scanning our financial portfolios twenty four seven, never being satisfied with what we have.

Too often have I seen people die with unbelievable wealth while they themselves lived their life frugally.  At their funeral, hordes of relatives turn up hovering around like vultures waiting for the spoils. They say where there is a will there are relatives! Unlike King Tut our graves are six feet by two feet and we can take nothing with us. It would be wiser if we share what we have honestly earned with those we love and those who are less fortunate in our society, while still alive.

When we stand before God’s throne of grace to be judged, and judged we will, we must be able to give an account of what we did with the blessings we received. You can’t write a cheque in heaven, you must do it on earth.

I have requested that when I pass away from this life to the Lord’s gate to be judged, two things be placed in my coffin as a sign of what I have loved on earth; that the Bible be placed in my hand and the Jerome Biblical commentary to rest my head. In these many years, the Word of God has truly nourished me and these have been my treasures.  

Fr Warner D’Souza

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