Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Little Something Extra...Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priorities and Trust

Lent starts this coming week, but today's Gospel from Matthew 6:24-34 invites us to start getting ready right now by examining our priorities and our level of trust in God.

Let's take a closer look.

Jesus begins with a warning:

“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.”

What is mammon? Some translations simplify the word and use “money” in their renderings. This, however, doesn't capture the essence of the Greek μαμωνᾶς, which derives from a Semitic term that means “the treasure a person trusts in.” The issue, then, is not the use of money but the attachment to money. Jesus does not want us to put our trust in material things or to serve material things but to trust in God and serve God.

What is your attitude toward money and possessions? Where do you place your trust?

Jesus continues:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear."

For many people, this is one of Jesus' most difficult and challenging teachings. Do not worry. Do not worry about your life. Do not worry about food or clothing. 

Pause for a moment here and reflect on how much you do worry about these things. 

Jesus goes on to explain how God cares for all His creatures. He provides food for the birds and beauty for the flowers even though they do not work for it. Jesus assures us that God will also provide for all of us, His human creatures.

Jesus then asks us a few important questions to help us analyze our priorities and our level of trust in God.

1. "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

2. "Are not you more important than they [the birds God always feeds]?"

3. "Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?"

4. "If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will He not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?"

We should know the answers already, but do we? 

Jesus then draws some important conclusions:

"So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” 

We must not behave as pagans who chase after material things and give them the first priorities in life. We must not worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear. God knows that we need all of these things. 

What are we to do instead? We must seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. What does this mean? We must keep our eyes on God. We must live in His presence. We must focus on living good, moral lives of love according to God's will. If we do this, if we put God in first place, He will see to it that we have all we need, but mostly, we will have what is most important, Him.

Finally, Jesus tells us to focus on today, on the present moment. This is especially difficult for many people. We tend to look ahead, to plan and fret, to wonder and worry. Jesus, however, assures us that tomorrow will take care of itself. We have enough to keep us busy today. Further, God is perfectly present here and now. We must focus on meeting Him today instead of fussing about tomorrow. 

This is all wonderful, practical, perfect advice, isn't it? But how well do we follow it? Take a few minutes this week to answer the questions offered here and to reflect on your priorities and on how much you trust in God.

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