4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 29, 2017
Many years ago now I can remember my mother complaining that the bank CD rate she was getting was too low – and it was 18% at that time! Now one is lucky to get even 1%. A decade ago it seemed like there was no way for real estate prices to decline, but they did (they are back up, for now). The stock market has suffered dramatic rises of late, and crashes that inevitably will follow. But all the possessions of this world will fail us in the end. What lasts? What matters? What wealth will we actually be able to take with us into heaven?
Why do we spend so much time worrying about this world (which is so temporary) and so little about the world to come (which is eternal)? Why indeed? Because we can’t see that world yet. To be successful in life is to choose and cultivate those personal assets that matter most to God.
What we really want to know is what will be valuable in heaven? What assets should we be developing now? Jesus sees directly into our future and knows exactly where we should be (spiritually) investing, and if we are listening to him; we, on the other hand, tend to go for short term (worldly) gains. The world of the future (heaven) will in many ways be a mirror image of this one – in other words – everything will be turned around—what is valuable now will later prove to be worthless, while what seems cheap and unattractive now will be priceless. Many of us are like treasure seekers who miss all the real gold laying around in plain sight, because we do not recognize these things for their true value; instead, we go after fool’s gold!
According to today’s gospel (Matthew 5:1-12), those who will be “wealthiest”
(most blessed) in the world of the future will want to be cultivating investments in such
areas as these, opportunities for the greatest possible gain: being poor in spirit (practicing detachment from possessions); accepting mourning when it arrives without complaint; practicing meekness (giving way to others); being hungry and thirsty for righteousness (placing God first in my life); becoming a merciful person in my daily encounters with others; aiming for a pure heart in a porn infested world, and especially in what I look at, listen to and in my speech; being a peacemaker instead of a person who likes to stir things up; and (what may be least attractive of all), being insulted, persecuted and calumniated for Christ’s sake! That’s really winning the lottery! In other words, making our lives ones of habitually placing God and others before ourselves.
Some of these are more attractive than others, but on the last day of life, we will want to have an ample supply of all these assets in our individual personal portfolio. Why is that? Because, when we take all eight of these “beatitudes” together, they are a description of the Son of God, and the more like him we become, the “wealthier” we will be in the life to come. Love is what we have been through with someone, and these beatitudes will connect us with Jesus in a way no other possessions can match. These attributes may not look valuable now, but just wait.