Do you like the smell of garlic simmering in hot olive oil? I do. There is so much promise in that smell. The gastric juices get going; the appetite is tantalised with the expectation of what is to come. The bouquet of a red wine can have the same effect. Perhaps there are other foods or experiences like this for you. The sense of smell is the beginning of eating and drinking – we feel like we are already participating in that experience of food or drink. We are in a sense already enjoying the experience even though we have not begun to eat or drink. Already – but not yet. There is more to come.
The gospel of today picks up the theme of already but not yet in relation to the world that Jesus Christ introduces to us. This is a challenging text. Too often the text has been interpreted in a manner which suggests that we should be living a certain way and within particular boundaries, so that we may therefore inherit the real stuff, God’s Kingdom at a later date. And we should be attentive to the fact that this day may arrive at any moment. We should ensure that we are ready to lay down what we are doing and enter into this life for which we have been waiting and preparing all our days. Well the parable is a parable. It is not a descriptor of God and us. The master does not need to be interpreted as being God and we the servants. The parable is a parable it is a story drawn from the known experience and culture of the time to illustrate a point. What point? That the Christian life is not primarily about waiting for the rewards of heaven later but about getting on with building the kingdom of God here and now. Once we have smelt the fragrances and been stimulated by the promise of what is to come we live and act out of that experience.
So where your treasure is there will your heart be also. In English there are two possible interpretations to the your in your treasure and your heart. I can speak about your treasure and mean you as an individual. I can speak about your treasure and mean all of you and your collective treasure. In Greek there are 2 separate words for the singular your and the plural your.
Paul J. Nuechterlein pointed out to me that in the original Greek text ‘your’ is plural. This is interesting. Luke is not talking to individuals about their hearts desires he is talking to the community; the apostles, those to whom he writes his gospel and also to us. Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. The gospel therefore is a challenge for us to explore, share and articulate our understanding of the treasure we have been given – the “Kingdom of God” – together. That is why we have baptism in community – that is why we celebrate Eucharist together. That is why our Newsletter week after week is full of opportunities for us to come together and seek out our treasure and feed our hearts desire: women in the gospel, daily retreats, the parish leadership plan. It is the same reason we chose to run Catholic schools.
I wonder during the week if there is a chance that we can share with each other our thoughts on what we think a Christian community can be and do today. It’s difficult because our faith, like many things in our culture, has been highly individualized and become a matter for the privacy of our hearts. Maybe that conversation can happen in the kitchen one evening when the promise of what is to come has begun to whet your appetite.
By Fr Brendan Reed