Gospel Reflection Friday (18 June) – 11th week of Ordinary Time Store up treasures in heaven
Anne O’Brien, Leader of Mission Integration for St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads and reflects on Matthew’s Gospel (6: 19-23) in which Jesus tells the disciples it is better to store up treasures in heaven than on earth. Anne says, one of the most striking examples of conscious choice, of someone’s choice of radical poverty, in our Christian heritage is that of St Francis of Assisi. It wasn’t an economic recession or financial mismanagement that brought St Francis to poverty. He freely chose to relinquish his considerable wealth to embrace poverty out of a passionate, all-consuming love of Jesus, who emptied himself and embraced poverty. St Ignatius of Loyola was influenced by St Francis’s radical choice of poverty and for a time emulated him in his uncompromising stance. He later arrived at a place where he advocated a detachment from both wealth and poverty – as long as one’s essential treasure was Jesus and not money one would be free to embrace the peace and joy Christ brings. In today’s readings, including the first reading of St Paul’s (2 Corinthians 11: 18, 21-30), Jesus is warning us against making earthy riches our treasure and, extending beyond financial wealth, St Paul reminds us how readily we can come to regard worldly achievements or even hardships, an experience, as a treasure. Our security against this can be recognising our essential weakness as created human beings totally dependent on God. So how might our choices enhance our freedom and protect us from being too concerned about worldly achievements? Keeping in mind the bigger picture is a crucial feature of the process. As Christians, we know the purpose of our lives is service of God. The gifts we have been given are aids for us to further God’s Kingdom on earth not for us to use for our own ends. Anne says, a wonderful example of great service in our Parish at the moment is how many Parishioners and members of the community have supported our Pop-up pantry. We have had volunteers coming in week on week. We have people walking in the door with generous donations. We have had many people who have gone online and donated to the parish appeal. Therein lies the gift of service that Jesus has taught to us. Anne takes the opportunity to thank all those in our Parish and community who have supported it. In closing, Anne invites us to prayer: Loving God, Forgive us for the times when we have been unfaithful to your call. Give us the generosity of heart and spirit that enable us to keep our eyes on you and to see your presence in the midst of our daily lives. Amen.