Year A: 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 6: 24-34
Today’s Gospel is as much of a challenge to us in our day as it was to those hearing it for the first time in first-century Israel. In fact, it may be even more of a challenge as people have become more and more dependent on financial success for their security.
What Jesus says is, of course, absolutely true - God does care for the birds who do not spend any part of their lives in sowing or harvesting. And flowers are radiantly beautiful without going to the trouble of spinning, dyeing or weaving what they wear. All this is true - but - somehow - we cannot quite stretch it to applying to ourselves. If we have dependants, this becomes even harder - how can we just leave it to God when they are our responsibility?
Perhaps the crucial word in today’s Gospel is the word “worry”. It appears several times in various guises - and seems to be the attitude of mind and heart that Jesus is seeking to challenge.
Some people claim to be born worriers - they are not happy unless they have something to worry about - and will say that they worry if they have nothing to worry about!
Others find that stress and tiredness bring them to worry - they are struggling to cope already - what if they get worse? How will we manage? How are things going to get better? The questions for the born worrier and the one who is learning to worry become focused on one issue - what can I do to change things? - with the emphasis on the word “I”.
Worrying revolves around ourselves. We may worry about other people - but, always, there is an element of ourselves in it. So - how will they manage to eat may mean how will they manage without me there to cook for them? How will they manage financially - may mean how will they manage without me to provide for them?
Concern for others is essential - but Jesus reminds us that worrying unduly about others - and even ourselves will change little. He suggests that all the worrying in the world does not extend life by one cubit - modern medicine suggests that it may even shorten it!
He encourages us to step out of the cycle of worry - the going round and round in never-ending circles - and setting our sights on other things - specifically the things of the Kingdom. Then, He suggests, all the rest will fall into place. This does not mean that life will suddenly become easy - rather that we will live with a clearer sense of what is - and what isn’t worth worrying about.
What does it mean for me?
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