Daily Reflection
June 18th, 1999
Dennis Hamm, S.J.

  2 Corinthians 18:21b-30
Matthew 6:19-23


Nothing is easier to verify from experience: what we hold most valuable in our lives is where we invest our love and our preoccupations. We may notice this in other people's lives more easily than in our own. If, for example, we have a friend who invests more time and energy in the work place than is really necessary, we may admire that person's dedication for a while. But when we note that his or her relationships with spouse and children is suffering as a consequence of all that time spent on work, we call that person a workaholic. If we care enough, we try to help him or her see that he or she needs to refocus. His or her heart is so much invested in work that the basic human relations have ceased to be the treasures they ought to be.

Today's Gospel reading is from the center of the Sermon on the Mount. Here Jesus reminds us that living his tough teaching about disciplining our anger and sexual desire, speaking the truth, forgiving, being nonviolent, even loving enemies--all of this is a matter of focus. When our covenant relationship with God (as we express it in the Lord's Prayer) is what we most treasure, that is what will govern the rest of our love life (where our hearts are).

In the selection from his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul "talks funny." In response to the boasting and self-promotion of some misguided Christian disciples that he dubs "the super-apostles," Paul chooses, in contrast, to boast of the various ways he has suffered in his ministry. If we wonder what Paul is up to when he expresses himself that way, we need to read ahead into the next chapter. There he tells us that he has learned of the Lord's power and loving care when he has been most vulnerable. These experiences demonstrate the wisdom Paul said the Lord communicated to him in these words: "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." That leads Paul to say, "So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Cor 12:9) This is the same wisdom we encounter today in Twelve-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. When we are most vulnerable--addicted to alcohol, say--that is when we are most likely to learn that a "power greater than myself" can help us regain sanity and wholeness. Then we discover that our ultimate treasure is the Lord, and we can let our hearts rest in that most permanent relationship of all.

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