April / May - 2020 Vol. 109

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Don't Let Your House Be Broken Into.

A Reflection on Luke 12:32-48

by Fr. Philip Merdinger

“Fear not, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

The Reflection Question: What distractions in your life can you remove in order to hear Jesus knocking at the door of your heart?

Well, our Gospel today certainly has a number of things to say to us about ourselves and about the Lord and about His life. We can take a couple of them at least. Jesus says, "Fear not, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom." The Father is pleased to give you a life, a life which this world can't give, even if it wanted to, and this life has certain characteristics to it. For example, Jesus says, "Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide for yourselves a treasure in heaven." Well, obviously He doesn't mean just get rid of everything and sit on the street corner.
No, He's talking more about where your heart is placed. So the issue of the possessions you keep, the possessions I want, the possessions I keep versus the ones I get rid of, have to do more with what it says to my heart. Where is my heart centered? And if I have possessions that claim my heart, well, then my heart is not available for the Lord's life in me. And perhaps there are persons who say, "Who cares anyway? I want what I want."
But if we're curious about what is it that the Lord really wants us to have, in light of which He says, "Review what you have, and if there are things or attitudes or memories or grudges that keep you from accepting what I have for you, those are the possessions," Jesus says, "get rid of them," so that you have another kind of treasure that won't be eaten away by interest rates or by the demands of life or the tragedies thereof. But rather you'll have a treasure which is able to grow, because it's the place where you place your heart, and that heart is intended to live not only in your own body now, but to live forever in the presence of the Father who made it.
So it's a concern, therefore, and the Lord wants us to take that seriously. It is a concern where my heart is. So if my heart is really locked into whatever I may have: things, people, whatever, in such a way that Jesus is excluded from that, if I say to Him, "I'll deal with you if you do certain things for me," well then my heart has isolated myself from being available to the power of the Lord and the life that He wants me to give. And what does this life look like?
Well, in the next paragraph Jesus says something, He says, "Don't let your house be broken into." Ah, we understand that. We understand that very well, as the people of His generation did as well. Don't let your house be broke into, because there's somebody who wants to steal something from you, and I'm not talking about the silverware on the dining room table. I'm talking about your heart. He wants to steal that from you and take it away and attach it to himself through the various deceptions of life. He wants to separate you from your heart and the person who made that heart, Jesus, and instead to fasten it upon what he wants.
He's a thief! He's a thief! There is no good in him. He wants to steal your heart, breaking into the house of your heart. So Jesus warns us, "Don't let your house be broken into," because that's what the thief really wants to do. By contrast, in the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation, this is how Jesus approaches the house of your heart. He knocks on the door. In the Book of Revelation, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, and whoever admits me," therefore a free act, "I will sit down at dinner with him."
That's the difference between the thief who wants to break in and steal your heart away from the Lord versus Jesus who patiently knocks at the door of your heart and says, "You can choose to let me in, or not. You can choose to hold onto your possessions so that I never am admitted. You can do that, and I'm not going to force the door. No. No, the thief does that." Remember Jesus said of Himself, in one place He said, "I am the gate of the sheep. The marauder, the thief, comes in to steal and destroy." That's a good image. Right?
When people's houses are broken into, physically speaking, they're often left something of a wreck, because that's the nature of it. So spiritually, dearest brothers and sisters, the Lord says to us, "Don't let your house be broken into. Rather, be prepared. Stand guard over the house of your heart so that the thief doesn't break in and steal and destroy." So He says to us, "You must always be prepared, because the Son of Man is coming to you." And not just in death, but the Son of Man comes to us through the circumstances of life as He chooses them. And He knocks on the door of our heart and says, "Will you open it to me? Because I will never break it down and force the entry. I don't do that."
So I think the Scripture today always focuses, therefore, on where is your heart at. Well, I think the truth of it is for many of us, beginning with myself, my heart's divided. There's part of me that likes what I'm doing, likes my job, likes the ability to open my heart to the Lord, but there's a part of me, too, that's selfish. Oh yes, sorry you. Sorry. Yes, yes we are. A part of me that's closed off, maybe not too hard, but closed off nonetheless. So the Gospel comes to me, and Jesus says, "Fear not, because the Father wants to give you the kingdom." That is this treasure. That's what His intention is. He will not break down the door of your heart and make a forced entry, but He will knock and ask for admittance. But that's His intention.
You know from experience that there are people who are presented with great opportunities of life and they turn them down for whatever sets of reasons, and it's a tragedy. It's a sadness. They look back on it—perhaps all of us can. I can—at times when the Lord has offered me something and I've said, "No thanks." But the Lord says, "But I'll come and knock again, because your heart is a treasure to me and not just to you." That's the good news, that our hearts, the precious sense of ourselves, is a treasure not simply for us, but for the Lord Himself.
So dearest brothers and sisters, hear the word of the Lord today. Harden not our hearts by whatever sets of possessions we may have, things or people or attitudes or whatever, but rather open your heart and say, "Come, Lord Jesus. I hear you knocking, and I want to open the door freely, of my own accord, for you are not a thief, but you are a savior. And you want to come into my life and fill it with yourself so that I can have a life of joy and power and confidence and lack of fear that is really your legacy to me here on Earth, and the entryway to the Father's house in heaven.

> See related articles on .... in the Living Bulwark archives.

Fr. Philip Merdinger is the founder of the Brotherhood of Hope and the national chaplain of Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO) based in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA...

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