12 August 2007

WHAT FUNDS YOUR RISK?

19th Sundy in Ordinary Time
Lk 12:32-48


He was very young when he became king: Alexander the Great. Enthroned at twenty years old, Alexander was an image of a worried youth. His father had just been murdered by during his sister’s wedding banquet. The assassin: a noble of his own father’s court circle. Alexander could only surmise that he was encircled by his enemies from both within and without. One of his first campaigns was to overcome the rebellion in his own kingdom in Macedon. This he had to wage vis-à-vis the effort to silence those who, because of his youthful age, question his ability to rule and fight for his kingdom. Alexander, however, swiftly accomplished both.

A story goes that once while leading his army of 40,000 men through Asia Minor, Alexander became gravely ill. His physicians were very much afraid to treat him because if they fail to heal him, they could be accused of malpractice and his soldiers would behead them. One, however, took the risk. His name was Philip, a physician who had great confidence in both his friendship with Alexander and in his own medicine.

While Philip was preparing the healing potion, Alexander received a letter from Philip’s enemy, accusing Philip of the being bribed by the king of Persia to poison him. After reading the letter, Alexander slipped it under his pillow and never showed it to anyone. When Philip brought him the liquid remedy, Alexander took from him the cup as he gave Philip the letter. While Philip read the contents of the letter, Alexander drank the contents of the cup. After reading the accusation made against him by the letter, Philip fell down in fear for his life, but Alexander assured him of his complete confidence in him. Three days thereafter, Alexander recovered and continued leading his army.

Considering that his father was murdered by one of his own noblemen, Alexander showed Philip great trust. But his decision to drink the medicine prepared by one who was accused of the evil intent to poison him was not foolishness: though he could not see what was to happen, Alexander believed in what he saw – Philip’s loyalty – and acted on that belief. Alexander was certain that he and Philip had the same hope: his own recovery. As the Letter to the Hebrews say, “To believe is to be certain of the things hoped for, the assurance of the things that could not be seen.”

Our second reading today describes Abraham as a man “almost dead”. He was already very old, and the same is true with his wife. It was already very impossible for them to have their own child. But their faith in God enabled them to believe in what they could not see. Faith helped them to create a vision of what the future would be. They lived guided by that vision of faith and they were rewarded with a son. They journeyed toward the promised land “not knowing where they were going”. Faith in God was the only map in their hands.

Upon reaching the land shown them by God, Abraham and his wife lived there as a stranger without any right. They trusted that their own descendants would live as citizens of that land someday. But Abraham gazed even beyond as he looked out from his tent: he fixed his eyes on another city that God Himself would build. Abraham’s faith empowered him to see things as parts not of his present experience but of the future. As Tennesse Williams said, “Time is the longest distance between two places.” Abraham looked at another place and time where and when he could live in his own homeland, sharing God’s address.

Because of his deep faith in God, Abraham was able to take a risk. Where he went, he brought with him his treasure; his treasure was very much part of him; he could not, for any reason, separate from his treasure. His real treasure was his faith in God, and his heart was where he kept his treasure. Jesus desires the same for all His disciples. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart also be.” But we first need to ask our selves: “What is my real treasure?”

So, what really lies inside our treasure box? What do we truly value in life? If we were to list honestly what we really value, we are certain to betray our selves. If we want to know what a person cherishes in his heart, we must first know what is inside his treasure box. To see where a person puts his trust is to see the condition of his heart.

The gospel today asks us: Is our treasure the kind that never fails us? The kind of treasure that Jesus keeps on talking about is that which cannot be stolen or destroyed. If we were to be pick pocketed or held-up or robbed right now, would our treasure stay with us nonetheless?

Abraham risked everything, but his risk is funded by his own treasure – his faith in God. Alexander, too, risked his own life when he drank the potion that Philip prepared, but his risk is funded by his treasure too – his trust in the loyalty of his physician-friend. Jesus risked everything, but His risked is funded by His own treasure as well - His great love for the Father. Is our treasure that immense that it can fund the risk demanded from us by the gospel?

Before we ask our selves what we dare risk, we must first ascertain what funds our risk.

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