V


The Treasures in Heaven

Live your lives doing to others as you would have them do to you.

Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen, enjoying a life of extravagance. In the same town there lived a homeless man named Lazarus, who sat near the gate that led to the rich man's house. He did not ask for anything but the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Stray dogs were his only friends, and they licked his wounds.

Finally, one day Lazarus died and was carried by angels into the arms of Abraham. Not long afterwards, the rich man also died, and was buried.

From the agonies of hell he lifted his eyes full of torment, and seeing Abraham a great way off, he cried: “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send the beggar Lazarus to comfort me! Have him dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, for I suffer here in these flames!”

But Abraham replied: “My son, remember that in your lifetime you enjoyed your good things, while Lazarus knew only suffering and misery. Now, he is comforted, and you are the one tormented. Besides, between us is fixed a great gulf of separation, so that those who would come to you from here cannot, neither can you, cross over to us from where you suffer.”

Hearing these words, the rich man cried out: “I pray, then, that you send Lazarus to my Father's house. I have five brothers, and he must warn them, so they do not end up in this hell.”

To this, Abraham answered: “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.”

"But surely," the rich man protested, "if one were to appear to them from the dead, they would repent."

Abraham replied: "If they do not repent because of the words of Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded, even if one should appear to them from the dead."

There is no generosity in giving to those who can easily repay. Even misers lend money when they are certain of being repaid in full. Give to those who appear before you in need, to the destitute with no hope of repaying your gift. Practice forgiveness, even if such persons take advantage of your kind acts.

The poor, when they give, contribute more than the wealthy, who give from their abundance. The poor contribute from their need, and with great love often give what they cannot spare.

How nearly impossible it is for those who love money to enter the kingdom of God ! It is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom. And yet, what is impossible for man is made possible by God's mercy.

Do not hoard treasures on earth where moths and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust corrupt, nor thieves break in to steal. Where your treasure is, there you heart will also be.

Some do good acts only when they are certain of an audience. For these, there is no reward. When you give, do not behave like the hypocrites, who ring bells in the temple and parade in the streets. These have their own reward.

Do not even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give quietly and in secret; and your heavenly Father who sees such acts of kindness will reward you openly.

Learn to give and it will be given back to you abundantly, more than you can imagine, multiplied and overflowing. By the same measure that you distribute your generosity, your reward will be measured in return.

Once, the investment of a rich man yielded a great profit. Considering his increased riches, the man said to himself, "What shall I do with my profits?" And he came to this decision: "I will pull down my old houses, and build ones that are greater. I have amassed immense treasure, and will rejoice in my wealth. I will be content for many years to come, and will spend my time eating, drinking, and being merry."

But God said to him: "Reckless man! Do you not know that this same night your soul will be demanded of you! When you are gone, whose will all these things be?"

Such is the fate of those who store up treasure for themselves, and are not rich in the possessions of God. What merit is there in attaining all that the world can offer, if in so doing you forfeit your soul? What can be given in exchange for your soul, or your place in the kingdom of heaven?




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