19th Sun C
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
Virtually all personal self-help books are a riff on two simple ideas that Jesus teaches in this Gospel: what do you treasure and what are you alert to. The two do go together – we are alert to what we treasure. We want many good things and our desire for these things makes a lot of money for the authors of these books of advice – but how much really changes? We have our desires, we evaluate what is best for us, we decide on a programme of transformation, we make resolutions…and then, small changes and a few months later we go looking for another self-help book. Maybe this is the one? So what’s wrong?
Maybe we don’t really take the time to recognise what we already ‘treasure’, what we are already investing our time, energy, even self in? We have to look at our foundations. If they are sound, we can build on what we already have. If they are not, we have to do some serious work or our change will be built on sand. So how do we determine where we stand? – by being alert to what we do, not what we talk or fanaticise about.
For example, I live in an area where many of the population work away at the mines. This is commonly regarded as undermining family life….but not for many miners I know. Because they really want to love and support their families, they find ways and means to do that in spite of the time away. These people act out of love and by building on that love they will grow in the image of God in which they have been made.
But what about more destructive behaviour? Waste of our gifts and talents, perhaps even abuse of drugs, alcohol, gambling, TV or internet. Often at the base of such behaviour is a desire for forgetfulness, for any variety of reasons, but most often from shame. Unless that shame is faced, the desire to forget will override any programmes for change. This is when we need to become alert to the love of God for only in that love will we find the power to wipe away our shame.