The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. (6:14-21)
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” These are the words of our Lord God and savior Jesus Christ given to us today as we are now at the edge and preparing to leap into Great and Holy Lent. Our Lord has this amazing way of reorienting our thinking and even removing our blindness in order to help us to see. He prepares us for this great and holy season with an important reminder. Forgiveness and fasting are not simply “religious observances” or “traditions.” They are tools that help us gain and regain heavenly treasures. Lent isn’t actually about suffering or denial. It is about moving our hearts to treasure and appreciate things that matter and those things have an eternal significance and weight.
Our lenten disciplines are meant to give us laser-like focus on God and His kingdom, which shall not pass away. We are among the most productive people in the history of the world. Yet our Lord continually speaks to us and cries out saying “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. Where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal.” Reorient yourselves. Change your minds. Repent. Take the tools given to us by the Son of God and work hard, work tirelessly. Become the most productive person in the world…but produce something worthy of the name “Christian”. Toil, labor and struggle…but only for that which is eternal, glorious, and heavenly. Our bank accounts and savings which are here, cannot possibly help us in our next and permanent home. So the Lord tells us to struggle to save in our heavenly savings account.
What are the ways that are mentioned here by the Lord?
He begins by reminding us that forgiveness is a key foundation for beginning your savings account. Why is this the case? Because when you hold something against someone else, you are holding a debt against them. This debt is worse than all others including monetary interest (which God hates). This debt is worse than all the others because it is a debt that the other individual can never repay. Why can they never repay the debt? Because you won’t give them a way to repay it. This is outrageous and unacceptable in God’s eyes. God does not like it when we are unfair and unjust to others and we are the definition of unfair and unjust, when we do not forgive others quickly.
What happens to us when we do not forgive others?
God is disgusted when He sees this type of behavior. It forces God to remember all of our sins, all of our wrongdoings, and all of our evil because He does not, He cannot recognize us as His own children. We are like the one who was caught trying to sneak into the wedding without the appropriate wedding garments. If we have not been merciful and loving to others, we have not understood God’s mercy and love. This is ultimately a sign that we have rejected God’s love and mercy! Forgiveness is not something we’d like to do. It is one of the things that we have to do. It is a necessity for our salvation because salvation itself presupposes the forgiveness from God and the Lord Himself says “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
My brothers and sisters, these are not games that we should play. There is a better way. Today is the start of our recommitment to God. Today is the day to refocus and set our priorities. We are God’s children, and we are each meant to be sources of hope for others. We offer others the hope of God’s love, His mercy and His forgiveness by reflecting and incarnating these characteristics. We don’t talk about them in theory. We live them and in living them faithfully we find that what was once forced now becomes inseperable from who we are. The Lord who loves us, desires that we should be eager to receive God’s treasures. He says to us “come and take from my treasures which are piled high up to the heavens. Come and take as much as you can carry. Everything that I have is yours!” We are encouraged to take and to fill our spiritual inheritance to the brim. Let us start with Forgiving others so that God will not hold any debts against us. Let us continue by building up our heavenly accounts through heartfelt prayer that is powerfully united with fasting. Let us work for these eternal treasures and by the grace of God we will rightly treasure Him who alone is eternal. To the eternal God be the glory, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages AMEN.