Hearts and Eyes Set on the Lord, Eleventh Friday (I), June 19, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Sacred Heart Convent of the Sisters of Life, New York, NY
Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Romuald
June 19, 2015
2 Cor 11:18.21-30, Ps 34, Mt 6:19-23


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the Gospel, Jesus, as he has been doing throughout the Sermon on the Mount, continues to teach us the wisdom of how to live as he lives, how to live well, how to live to the full, so that with him we may live forever. He exhorts us to set our hearts on the true treasure of his kingdom, a treasure not measured in clothing that moths can wreck, metals that rust can corrode, or money that thieves or taxes can take. He reminds us that our heart will be where our treasure is. If we’re setting our hearts on this worldly treasures — pleasure, getting our way, health, fame, material possessions big or small — our hearts will be weighed down, enslaved, and it will be difficult to lift them to the Lord. If we set our hearts on the kingdom, on storing up for ourselves treasure in heaven, then we can turn everything into an investing in eternity.
  • Jesus says something similar in his image of the eye. He reminds us that the eye is the lamp of the body. If it is fixed on God, if it sees clearly and purely, then the body and soul will be filled with light; but if is blinded by concupiscence of the flesh (lust), of the eyes (materialism) or of the pride of life (for power or control), the whole body will be and walk in darkness.
  • So today is an opportunity for us to examine our eyes and hearts to see whether they’re truly set on God and the things of God. The Light has come into the world, as St. John tells us in his Prologue, but we need to choose the light instead of darkness, to purify our hearts of desires unworthy of the kingdom, to cleanse our eyes of any debris that keeps us from seeing Christ in the persons and events of the day.
  • In this Year of Consecrated Life, it’s important for all those who are in consecrated life and everyone who is consecrated by baptism, to grow in appreciation for the evangelical counsels who help us to live by what Jesus is indicating today. By the counsel of poverty, we lift up our hearts from the things of this world and find our treasure in the King and his kingdom: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” we sang before the Gospel, “for theirs is the kingdom of God.” By the counsel of chastity, we learn how to look and love purely with the eyes of the face and of the heart. By the counsel of obedience, we make the aim of our life to please God, to obey him freely and lovingly in things both big and small. The evangelical counsels are the antidote to the three-fold concupiscence. They are as well the most powerful eschatological homily, showing us how to seek and store up and eternal treasure where our eyes will be filled with the light of the beatific vision. This is the type of life that St. Romuald sought to live in founding the Calmadolese monks (hermits) and his example is a beautiful witness of these types of Christ-like priorities.
  • Another person who purified his heart and eyes in the way Jesus is calling us all to emulate is St. Paul. He fixed his eyes and heart on Christ and began to order everything not only to amassing an enormous spiritual treasure but striving to enrich us all by that same wealth. Today we encounter the famous passage summarizing of all of his sufferings. For me it’s one of the most moving passages I’ve ever read because it shows just how much he loved the Lord, just how much he was willing to undergo to obtain a treasure and help us to grasp the inheritance Christ has won for us and is offering for us. He was in the middle of a conversation with the Corinthians with regard to the impostors who had come among them sowing darnel and bragging about their credentials. So he bragged about his own. He checked off the box that he was a Hebrew (not just a Jew but a Hebrew speaking Jew, a real pride of honor among the Jews of Palestine versus those of the diaspora), a descendent of Abraham and a minister of Christ. But then he say he was that and more. And for his credentials, he presented the ways he had been crucified with Christ through labors, imprisonments, beatings and numerous brushes with death. “Five times at the hands of the Jews I received forty lashes minus one [which often killed the recipient];  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned [and basically killed before the prayers of the Church raised him from the dead], three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings, through cold and exposure.” But none of these were his worst sufferings. He said, “Apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches.” He cared for all of the Churches he had founded, sacrificed for them, prayed for them, fundraised for them, tried to protect them from wolves in apostles’ clothing, as he was doing with the Corinthians. He had kept his eyes and heart on the Lord throughout all of these pains and was trying to help the Corinthians do the same. And we know that the treasure he has received is so much greater than his great sufferings.
  • St. Paul’s sufferings were the means by which he was able to say, “I have been crucified with Christ and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.” It was the means by which he was able to be crucified to the world and the world to him. It was the means by which he was able to enter into Christ’s only great litany of sufferings, which is perhaps the only thing more moving than St. Paul’s description of his own today. He boasted of his weakness precisely because that was the best way that the treasure and light of his life was able to be manifested.
  • As we prepare to enter into Christ’s passion in the Mass, it’s an opportunity for us to recalibrate, to set our eyes on the Lamb of God, to lift up our hearts to the Lord, to boast of our weakness with St. Paul so that the beauty of Christ’s strength may radiate all the more. Here in the Eucharist we vest ourselves anew in our baptismal garment that moths can’t destroy. We ground ourselves in firmly on a rock that rust can’t corrode. We unite ourselves with a  treasure far greater than all the money in the world, the pearl of great price worth sacrificing everything in life to obtain.

The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 2 COR 11:18, 21-30

Brothers and sisters:
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
To my shame I say that we were too weak!But what anyone dares to boast of
(I am speaking in foolishness)
I also dare.
Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they children of Israel? So am I.
Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they ministers of Christ?
(I am talking like an insane person).
I am still more, with far greater labors,
far more imprisonments, far worse beatings,
and numerous brushes with death.
Five times at the hands of the Jews
I received forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I passed a night and a day on the deep;
on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race,
dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city,
dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea,
dangers among false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights,
through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings,
through cold and exposure.
And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me
of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

Responsorial Psalm PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (see 18b) From all their distress God rescues the just.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Alleluia MT 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit;
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”