The Gospel According to Matthew – 2017.02.26
The Path to God
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.
‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
Faith is Trust
It is a bold prescription for living. It is contrary to everything society, our families, our instincts tell us to do.
We all struggle with the desire to be fed, clothed comfortably, housed securely, and to build on those things.
For most of us, for the vast majority of us, even here in America, in the land of plenty, it is not enough that we have food for today, we feel the need to store up food for tomorrow, against the famine and drought that do not come. We store up dollars against the threat of bankruptcy, of poverty, for a future, either good or bad, for a future that may never come.
We do this, I do it to the extent that I can. I do not have much, and so I do not have a lot, but I have to confess that if I had more, I would hoard more. It is a difficult instinct to resist.
We all contend with those instincts, to some degree, they come from a time and a place when we were gatherers, hunters, before the age of agriculture, walled cities, and granaries.
The money and things that we store up do little good sitting in a vault, or a computer file.
Jesus is telling us to free those resources so that they can do good. This is the way, the path back to the garden, through the individual ministries of love, and sharing, of caring for your neighbor, your brother and sister, the stranger in your midst, each of whom like, like us, bears the image of God within.
Jesus calls on us to be faithful. Christian faith is not belief in a certain proposition about Jesus. Christian faith has nothing to do with what we believe about Jesus; whether he lived at all, or died on a cross, or was raised on the third day. Christian faith is to trust, it is to trust in God, to trust that our needs will be met tomorrow, as they have been today, to share from our abundance, to ask for help when we are in need.
It is in the spirit of that faith that we return to the Garden and walk in the way of God.
8th Sunday of Ordinary Time