Jesus says, do not worry about what you will eat or what you will drink, or…what you will wear. The birds neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns and yet they have what to eat. Look also at the lilies, they neither toil nor spin but God clothes them.
Bible readings Isaiah 49:14–15 Psalm 62:6–7, 9 1 Corinthians 4: 1–5 Matthew 6:24–34
No worry, really?
Here we are with a Gospel text that can be quite shocking to some people. Indeed, our trust in God should not lead us into haughtiness that renders us insensitive to the misery around us. Such arrogance will only manage to turn what’s supposed to be Good News into total insult, hurting those who toil but don’t manage to have even the minimum of the necessities of life.
Indeed, when you have eaten, you are dressed and you have shelter –you have the liberty to make a beautiful comment on a text like this one. You have no problem believing in providence. And yet, life isn’t always that rosy; in fact, for some it’s a continuous struggle. That’s why we should tread on this text a little bit thoughtfully, conscious of our brothers and sisters who may be overwhelmed by sense of revolt. Will they agree with Jesus?
As we speak about providence, there are people who are depressed because they have been looking for employment for years and they have got nothing; there’s a mother somewhere who’s just staring on her dying child just because she has no means to pay for medical treatment, in some places temperatures have been below O degrees Celsius and yet some people have been living in the open without shelter. Others may have shelter but no means of heating it. These are but just few examples of the endless of list of human misery.
Before such people, who will have the nerve to say; don’t worry about what you eat, what you dress…? We risk doing more harm than good. That’s why we need to read the word of God with intelligence.
Read with intelligence
Without immersing ourselves into the intelligence of scriptures we risk passing our whims for the word of God and end up doing unwise things. We squander the little money we may have today in the ill-conceived hope that tomorrow will provide for itself. Without intelligent reading; we misunderstand Providence and fold our arms, hoping to have a meal tomorrow delivered to us. Again, we risk doing harm not only to ourselves but to others also.
No doubt, Jesus appreciates the importance of working and earning our living. He knows too the importance of saving for the future. Yet, in the midst of such legitimate human needs Jesus has a message for us. There are keys to help us understand the text.
“No person can serve two masters….”
Money and material goods are necessary but we need clear and healthy relationship. Clear, because we need to clarify for ourselves where we place these material goods on the ladder of our priorities. Healthy relationship means that we remain master of what we possess and not the other way round. The things we have are at our service. When this relationship is inverted money becomes master of our life so much that our entire life is oriented to and controlled by what we possess. Possessions become idols or little gods in our life; and we become their slaves.
That’s why Jesus invites us not only to have clear priority but also to make a clear choice; what is it that I want to place at the centre of my life?
“Your heavenly Father…”
It’s a second key. Yes, I have needs and I need to work to earn a living. And that may give me a bit of worry sometimes. Indeed, it can be draining to experience life only as a series of worries in the rough world where I’m left to myself. Jesus proposes to us another way of looking at life –a way of confidence in God. There I realise that I’m not abandoned but there’s a Father who loves me: he gives me life, the intelligence to plan, the energy to do things and he also gives fruit to my labour. Of course, moments of worry may be there, yet, I’m consoled by the awareness that there’s someone on my side. That helps to go about in life with serenity.
Both the first reading and the Gospel bring home the caring presence of God in our lives –Providence. Isaiah goes further to add an image that brings warmth to this Providence that Jesus talks about.
Worry not, be secure in the arms of Mother God
We are used to referring to God as Father. Isaiah speaks of God like a mother. You need not to search far to appreciate the affection between a mother and her baby. However, God’s love for his people goes beyond that. That’s the assurance Isaiah brings to Israel who, in exile, feels abandoned:
Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
That’s why Isaiah and Jesus call us to place our trust in God. It’s equally the invitation of the psalm:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, (Ps 62:6-8)
This Sunday’s readings propose to taste the relationship of confidence in God. The question is, can I, in the midst of my worry keep my trust in God?
Mission of the week
We carry in our thoughts and in our prayer those who are despairing. If possible, why not be a channel of God’s Providence to someone?
Share this word to someone dear to you