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March 1979

Sell what you have, and give alms, provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens which does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys' (Lk. 12:33)

Perhaps you are young, and demanding a life which is idealistic, totally committed, radical? Listen to Jesus. No one in the world demands so much from you. He will give you an opportunity to demonstrate your faith and your generous spirit, even your courage.

Perhaps you are older and look instead for a way of life that is serious, busy, but safe? Or perhaps even older, wanting to live your last years trusting yourself to one who will never let you down, without the constant worry that you will be neglected.

This word of Jesus is precious for you too.

It comes at the end of a series of exhortations in which Jesus invites you to give up worrying about what you should eat or what you should wear, living exactly like the birds of the air who do not sow, or the lilies of the field who do not spin. You must therefore banish from your heart all cares for the things of this world, because the Father loves you more than birds or flowers, and he himself cares for you.

That is why he says this:

Sell what you have, and give alms, provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens which does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

The Gospel in its wholeness and in each of its separate 'words' is a total demand addressed to people for all that they have and are. God did not ask so much before the coming of Christ. In the Old Testament earthly riches are considered to be a blessing from God, his benediction, and if people were called to give alms to the needy, it was in order to earn the favour of the Almighty.

In later Judaism, the thought of recompense in the after-life became more common. A king replied to one who reproved him for squandering his goods, 'My forefathers accumulated treasures on earth, instead I accumulate treasures in heaven'. But the Jew saw no conflict in accumulating treasures on earth and preparing a treasure in heaven.

Now the originality of the word of Jesus consists in the fact that he asks the ultimate gift from you, he demands your all. He wants you to be a carefree son, with no worries in the world, a son who is totally dependent upon him. He knows that riches can be a great obstacle for you, because they occupy your heart, which he wants entirely for himself.

This then is what he recommends:

Sell what you have, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens which does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

If you are unable to get rid of your material goods because other people are involved, or because your position in life requires you to keep up a certain standard, you must at least get rid of them in a spiritual sense, so that you are related to them merely as an administrator. In this way while dealing with your riches, you will love others, administering wealth for them, and you will prepare for yourself a treasure that the moth does not destroy and the thief does not take away.

But ask yourself whether you need to hold on to everything you have.

Listen to the voice of God within you; if you cannot decide, take counsel. Look at how many unnecessary things you have. Don't cling to them. Give them to those who have nothing. Put the words of Jesus into practice, 'Sell what you have and you will fill up purses that do not grow old.

If you live in the world it is only natural that you should be interested in money and in goods. But God wants you to use these things, not be used by them. Use only that which you really need in order to live according to your social obligations or the circumstances of your life. For the rest:

Sell what you have, and give alms, provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens which does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

Pope Paul VI was really poor. He showed that by the way he wanted to be buried: in a simple coffin, 'in the bare ground'. A little before he died, he said to his brother: 'For some time now I have had my bags packed for that difficult journey'.

That is what you must do: pack your bags!

In the days of Jesus, it was purses they talked about. Prepare them daily. Fill them as full as you can, so that they may be useful for others. Truly, you have what you give away. Think of how much hunger there is in the world: how much suffering, how much need…

Put into your purse every act of love, all the aid you give to your brother.

Do these things for Him. Whisper to Him in your heart, 'for you!’ and do everything well, with perfection. Your deeds are destined for heaven, they will endure through eternity.

Chiara Lubich

 

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