Treasure: Reflection on Mathew 6:19-23

Treasure, a story of loss and resilience in Jesus

I was very young when my father died. I remember the sound of the mourners, with their long wails of abject grief. There were so many people in the house that day and my mother was the most distraught of all of them. I did not understand. I did not know that Abba would not return. I did not know what it would be like to be fatherless, or how widowhood would affect my mother. We wept as our mother wept, all of us, and there was no one of my father’s kin who came. Over time the people stopped coming to visit and we slipped into poverty. Our tears went unnoticed and our needs unmet.


One of my brothers died in that time, he was only an infant when our father died, and he became weak and thin and then he slipped away. My sisters and I survived though, and we knew that we must take care, we must never be poor again. The sisters married and moved into the houses of their fathers-in-law. I worked long hours, only stopping as the sun sank on the eve of the sabbath. I gathered my money, kept it safe, counted it, watched it grow and made provision for the future.

Jesus is my treasure

My wife and children would never suffer as I had. I made our family safe and then I went on working hard, building up the store and filling my chest with extra money. No harm could come to us. I had made more than enough to ensure that my life and the lives of my children would never be blighted. I did give alms, a little of my wealth but it was hard. As the chest filled up it was hard to see it reduced.

On the Mountain

One day my sister rushed into my workshop, excited and almost incoherent. All I heard were the words ‘So you have to come Reuben. You have to come with me and hear him!’ I have a long history of giving way to my sisters, no matter how much I want to take another direction. In the end they are usually right. I sighed and followed, as usual, the little brother, even though this entailed walking up a mountainside.

The Teacher

It seemed to me that here was an endless stream of people doing the same.  Ruth managed to push through the crowd so that we were very close to the Rabbi. He began to teach. His first words included that dreaded word ‘poor.’ In what way is poverty ever a blessing or a joy?

But as he spoke, something about the words, or something about his eyes, his voice, something about him, made it impossible for me to turn away. He spoke about poverty and mourning and grief and suffering and somehow it was consoling and as the tears rolled onto my beard, I glanced at Ruth, and she too was flowing with tears. He spoke to our hearts, to the very roots of our actions where anger simmers or lust begins and showed us how far love should go – even to love of our enemies. All around me I could see people touched to the core by his teaching. He taught us how to pray from the depths of our hearts, and then he turned and gazed at me and said,

‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’

A Broken (and a contrite) Heart

I dd not weep quietly, I wailed like those mourners at my father’s death. Ruth put her arms around me until I could be quiet again.

My treasure chest is empty now, and now I am so rich that I fear nothing. Jesus is my treasure, and I will share him with everyone who will listen to me.

[Readings: 2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20; Matthew 6:19-23]

Deborah van Kroonenburg

I am a Secular Carmelite, mother and grandmother, worked in the NHS for many years as a midwife and health visitor, and now work for my UK Diocese, in Marriage and Family Life and Catechesis, as well as helping my husband who is a Deacon in our parish.


  1. Kemi on June 21, 2024 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you so much for this beautiful and inspiring story! God bless you for the good working you are doing!

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