Once again Jesus shocked his hearers, and he continues to shock us today: “Sell your belongings and give alms.” That sounds reckless and goes against all we have heard about financial planning.
But then Jesus goes on to talk about real wealth, “Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.” An inexhaustible treasure, safe where no one can steal it from us! And because it’s in heaven, we don’t have to worry about leaving it to someone who might spend it foolishly (Ecclesiastes 2:21) or worry that God will prevent us from keeping it all for ourselves (Luke 12:16-21).
That seems all nonsense, of course, to those who assume that the only thing that is wealth is what can be measured in dollars and cents, preferably in one’s own bank account. But sound Christian doctrine teaches us that what really matters are faith, hope, and charity, resulting in joy and peace.
Whether our goal is worldly wealth or heavenly riches really depends on how much we trust God. As the Psalmist sings, “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield.”
The model of faithful living, according to Hebrews, is the Old Testament patriarch Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” Willing to risk all for the sake of obeying God, Abraham left his home for an unknown country – when he was 75 years old. That is not claiming to trust God – that’s demonstrating your trust by your actions.
Likewise, we’re invited to live out our faith in God by generously sharing what he has entrusted to us. Prudence, “right reason in action” (Catechism, 1806), is indeed called for. But our Lord assures us, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” We do not need to fear when God has promised us a place in his Kingdom. And that’s where our real treasure, what we really value, should be stored. As Jesus teaches, “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
But with the promise comes responsibility. We’ve know that God is good and that he has promised an inexhaustible treasure. Jesus challenges us to put that knowledge into practice. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”