Matthew 6:20-21

Wednesday, February 22
Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I received a phone call from a student’s mother who was at her wit’s end. She didn’t know what to do with her son, who she felt had been seriously damaged by a program the college sponsored, and she wanted some answers and some help in dealing with the changes she was seeing in him. My student had been in Africa doing development work for an NGO during a six-month stint sponsored by a program at the college. From a well-situated suburban family, he had seen for the first-time starvation and disease, abject poverty, and a neediness that opened his eyes and his soul to what he had never considered before. His response, on returning home, was to take everything in his bedroom—clothes from his closet, from the bureau drawers, trophies he had won at sports, academic awards, radio, CD player, all other electronics—and pile it in one gigantic heap on his bed. He said to his mother that she needed to help him get rid of the stuff of his former life, that it didn’t make sense to him now that he knew how most of the world lived. He wanted only one change of clothes, a few books, and nothing more.

This young man was beginning to understand what Luther meant when he wrote: “Those people are most fortunate who do not possess many treasures, for they do not have to support many rats and need not fear thieves.” But I knew this boy. He had other treasures:  a sensitive spirit, a love of God, a desire to reach the suffering, a faith in things unseen, things not subject to rust or moths, things that thieves cannot steal. Give him time, I advised his mother. With her guidance, he would see that his material blessings are not abominations but are meant to be shared and that his spiritual blessings are also to be used to allay the suffering of others.

Lord, you have given us much. Help us to use our gifts to help others who need them. And to see our worldly goods as gifts from you to be used for others. Amen

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