Dear Believers in the Christ,
I have never been much of a saver. Even though I do have archives of my published writings in the basement of our parish center at Sacred Heart, my possessions may not tell the story of my years in ministry. I have learned with ten moves across the country as a priest that I cannot carry my past worlds with me. Something has to give; something has to change in my perspective of what tells the story of my life, my priesthood and my past.
In today’s gospel, Luke 12:13-21, we hear Jesus inviting us to explore the treasures of his life within us. We are challenged to store up our riches in God’s love and not to squander our life with passing things, riches that turn to dust.
The riches I carry are the ways in which I have allowed my life to be broken open with God’s love and fidelity. Even though on some days I can’t hold that in my hand, I see it in my life of prayer. I view such reality in my willingness or not to serve people. Sometimes, it takes God a long time to open me up, to show me the place where my treasure is, to reveal to my rather shy self the gift of his animated presence.
The storehouse of possession lies only in my heart. I see this treasure with greater insight as the years go by. This is the treasure I hope I can pass on someday. This is the treasure that I hope will be passed down to the men who professed vows at Sacred Heart Church this past Saturday. With their profession, the Congregation of Holy Cross has now professed these same vows from our Novitiate in Cascade for forty years. On August 11, 1979, my classmates and I professed our vows in Colorado. I can’t believe forty years have gone by. These are the moments in which I open the treasure house of my heart and understand the fleeting breath of life and the hope I cling to in the beauty of God’s presence among God’s people.
When I was in South Bend earlier this summer, I ran into my Novice Director on his way to a Sunday Mass. Fr. Nick Ayo, CSC is now well into his 80’s and he continues to dive deeply into his faith and religious life. He is still one of our wisdom figures in Holy Cross. His life still points into the direction of God’s fidelity and goodness. He still teaches me by his example and honesty. He has stored much in his heart and his possessions are fewer and fewer.
I saw him standing at a tree about to burst with blossoms just outside the church. I watched him as he held one of the tiny blossoms with his aging fingers. He pulled the blossom up to his nose to smell the fragrance. He thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of God’s gift and treasure in the springtime moment. This is exactly what he has stored up in his own life, the ability to recognize the treasures of God, the miracles of creation and the goodness of all life. How beautiful to watch him. I pray for such moments of being absorbed in grandeur.
Life is meant to discover our place in God’s fidelity among his people. Such a rich gift! May we discover such bounty hidden among our earthly goods, talents, old artifacts and storehouses.