Heavenly Superannuation

– Friday of the 11th Week in Ordinary Time –

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” [Matthew 6:19-21]

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus advises us not to seek after worldly wealth, but to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven.  And the way in which we can do this – we are told elsewhere in the gospels – is through almsgiving (see Luke 12:33, see also Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22).

Because some people are more generous than others (see Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4), it stands to reason that there are (and will be) some saints in heaven with more ‘treasure’ than others. Yet one can see how some people might be troubled by this idea. Wouldn’t this make heaven a kind of a stratified society with upper, middle, and lower classes?

One person who was initially troubled by this idea was the young Therese of Lisieux. She was afraid that the saints “would not all be quite happy” because they didn’t all have “an equal amount of glory” in heaven. Her elder sister, Pauline, helped her understand the matter with this rather wonderful analogy:

“She [i.e. Pauline] sent me to fetch Papa’s big tumbler, and put it beside my tiny thimble, then, filling both with water, she asked me which seemed the fuller. … In this way Pauline made it clear to me that in Heaven the least of the Blessed does not envy the happiness of the greatest …”

Mindful that every good action will have a positive bearing on our capacity to experience God in eternity, may this realisation encourage us to give of ourselves generously in this life. As St Teresa of Kolkata was fond of saying, “we must give until it hurts” which is just another way of saying, we must stretch ourselves in the service of Love.

by Mark Makowiecki

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