4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 30, 2011
Thirty years ago, 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 you are lucky to get 1%. A decade ago it seemed like there was no way for real estate prices to decline. The stock market has suffered dramatic rises and crashes. Gold and silver seem to be doing the best at the moment and most ordinary folks don’t have much ability to invest in these kinds of things anyway!
Besides, we all know that, whether one succeeds or fails as an investor, all of this is quite useless in the world to come. 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, that’s why. It seems far away, yet only your next heartbeat keeps you here. That’s how close it is.
What we really want to know is what will be valuable in heaven? What asset classes should we be developing now? Jesus sees far into the future and knows where we should be investing; we on the other hand tend to go for short term gains. But 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 these areas as opportunities for the greatest possible gain: being poor in spirit (practicing detachment from possessions); accepting mourning when it arrives without complaint; practicing meekness; being hungry and thirsty for righteousness; becoming a merciful person in my daily choices; aiming for cleanliness of heart, especially in what I look at, listen to and in my speech; being a peacemaker instead of a person who stirs 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!
Some of these are more attractive than others, but on the last day of your life, you will want to have an ample supply of all these assets in your personal portfolio. Why is that? Because, when you 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 to have suffered (and all these beatitudes involve some degree of suffering) will connect us with Jesus in a way no other asset class can match. No, it doesn’t look valuable now, but just wait.