8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), Matthew 6:24-34
February 26, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
AN excessive yearning for material things and comfort has been a constant temptation for all human beings. Those who succumb to it lose the sense of their dignity and become slaves of the very things, which were intended to serve them.
Buried, as we are, in a consumeristic society which bombards us with the most tempting commercials, we feel our natural eagerness for material things heightened to an unprecedented degree. Some are so concerned about their material needs that they appear to have become the main goal of their existence. This is a continuous challenge to our faith in a God who loves us and cares for us and our needs. To be excessively concerned about material things is a form of practical atheism.
Jesus warns us against this danger with words that are, perhaps, even more relevant today than they were 2,000 years ago: “No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot give yourself to God and money!” (Mt 6:24).
To all of us today, Jesus addresses his appeal: “Do not worry . . .” His words are not an encouragement to idleness and irresponsible carelessness, but an invitation to fully trust God’s care for us.
It is a question of proper priorities. We Christians do show concern for material needs, both our own and our neighbor’s material needs, especially the needs of the people for whom we may be responsible. We have to, for the material world has been entrusted to our care and it is meant to satisfy our needs.
But Jesus reminds us that we should care for all these needs within the perspective of the Kingdom, which has got to be our top priority (see Mt 6:33). Everything has to be seen as a means to establish and expand God’s Kingship on earth.
Within this perspective, not only a wise concern, but also prayers for material needs have their proper place as we find it stated at the beginning of the second part of the Lord’s prayer. And all these cares and petitions are trustfully presented to the Father, in the firm assurance that He who gives life and cares for all his creatures will also provide the means required to satisfy their needs, for as long as He deems it necessary.
Our God is the Lord of life and care. Verses 26-29 in today’s Gospel passage are a beautiful invitation to reflect on God’s providential care for all creatures, even if their life span is short and they are worth much less, than a single human being. God provides for them in a magnificent, fatherly way. The obvious, forceful conclusion of the poetic premise is found in v. 30b: “. . . will God not much more provide for you, O people of little faith?” To say that we believe in Him implies also that we believe in his loving care for us. And this makes all the difference.
Our trust in Him sets us free from unnecessary worries that vex the life of unbelievers. Trust in the Lord’s providence makes us enjoy the freedom of His children, even as it motivates us to become instruments of His providence for our neighbor, especially the neediest ones.
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