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"Sermon" Meditation XV: Treasure

"Sell your possessions and give to charity (alms).  Store up treasure for yourselves in a heavenly account, where moths and rust do not consume, and where thieves cannot break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there your heart  will also be." -- Q1

"Sell your possession and give to the poor" is not included in Matthew's sermon on the mount, but rather contextualized within the story of Jesus' advice to the "rich young ruler' seeking salvation.  Almost none of the sayings in hypothetical Q1 are contextualized, except in terms of the even more hypothetical "Seeing the multitude, Jesus said to his disciples..."  I hope nobody else has this confusion, but when i see or hear "disciples," i automatically think of the 12 (and subsequent) apostles.  Of course these words are not synonymous,  The apostles are all dead (or they are Bishops if you are in one of the liturgical churches that believe in "apostolic succession."  There are presumably over 2,000,000,000 disciples, all of whom are being asked here to sell their possessions and give to charity,

People commonly accomplish this by joining monastic orders.  The rest of us remain somewhat puzzled as to how we can accomplish this divorce from material things, especially given the moneytization of almost all of modern existence.  I have met only one person who accomplished this and i have always regretted not pressing him for details.  I have sometimes imagine "selling all i have and giving it to the poor and going and following a spiritual path."  Of course, i must first bury my spouse (my father having been buried long ago) and see to it that my children and grandchildren are cared for.  (By then i will have great grandchildren to worry about.)

The psychology of Q1 is right on.  I know Oprah Winfrey has said, "money hasn't changed me;"  but there are tapes of her early shows that can be compared with what she is doing today which clearly show that money (or something equally life changing) has changed her.  Jesus didn't say, "where your heart is, there will your treasure be."  The heart follows the treasure.  So chose your treasure carefully.  We are capable of treasuring almost anything from tulip bulbs to "credit default swaps"; all kinds of silly things are "to die for."  And, tragically, some of us do die, getting into a fraternity, defending a foxhole, or even choking on our favorite beverage.

Where is my treasure?
My heart is divided!
If i don't know what i want
my heart will be broken.

I value security too much and love too little
I treasure self too much and neighbor too little
Much of my treasure is dust or will become dust.
My heart should not follow dust.
What lasts and is good?
Only what i give away is truly mine,

Higher power, show my heart its treasure.  Amen.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
I guess this is the value of asceticism. All of the material things that seduce us -- you know, I read just the other day that what Evagrius Ponticus (the guy who came up with the 7 deadly sins, except pride was split into two so they were 8) meant by most of the items on his list had to do with clinging. His were 8 bad or treacherous thoughts, not sinful actions. Gluttony he defined not as eating too much, but as being too particular about what one ate out of anxiety about one's health. Avarice is about hoarding, out of a lack of faith in God to meet one's needs. Envy actually meant more like wallowing in "what if"s. Anger wasn't about anger per se, but rather resentment, the clinging to old angers.

The most important is pride (as it was for Bill Wilson in his 4th step exposition): believing that we are capable of doing anything on our own efforts, without God's help.

So asceticism is about training ourselves to distinguish between "want" and "need". And the only thing we really NEED is God ... or at least, the only thing worth pursuing is God, because the rest is up to Him to give us anyway, not for us to seek. It's about refraining from reaching out to satisfy our own wants. It goes too far, in my opinion, when it rejects created things, or fails to recognize and accept the good things God offers us gratuitously -- but the seeking should always be for God, not security, food, sex, beauty, health, or anything else.

So glad to have the opportunity to respond to these, because obviously I am a pretty poor ascete myself, and fearful and insecure and clinging and craving and all the rest of it. You are giving me the opportunity to explore the concepts I need to focus on today.

Aug. 13th, 2010 10:49 pm (UTC)
(:>)> I appreciate your comments,
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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