Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Trust in the Lord
It is a real joy for us all to bask in the proclamation of today's Gospel, Matthew 6:25-34, the teaching on God's love and care for us. It certainly is easy to wax poetic on the beautiful images presented: the birds of the air cared for by God, the fields, dressed by God with wild flowers making them more grand than King Solomon in all his glory.
The images are beautiful, but we do need to be careful that the message is not lost in the poetry. The underlying message of this passage is pointed to those who are weak in faith, certainly me, perhaps also you. The theme of little faith, found throughout the Gospel of Matthew, strengthens those of us whose faith in the Risen Lord is continually assaulted by the situation of our daily lives. We are called to faith not just in times of great spiritual experiences, or in times of personal crisis, we are called to faith in the face of our typical day.
Two weeks ago we heard a passage in the Sermon on the Mount that precedes today's Gospel. It contained warnings about limiting the growth of holiness through a strict adherence to the letter of the law without going to the heart of the law. You remember the precepts: it is not enough to avoid murder, we cannot hate, and so forth. That passage was first pointed at the establishment thought of the Pharisees Scribes, and Sadducees. The limitations of the wisdom of these self styled sages is confronted with the enthusiasm a Christian must have in God. The bottom line is that we are to trust in God to provide. We should not base our trust on our money. Today's Gospel must have been seen as thoroughly irresponsible to the teachers of Jesus’ time, but it is an accurate demonstration of the faith we must nurture. "Don't worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow take care of itself. Seek first God's kingdom over you and his way of holiness, and all will be given you." “What irresponsibility,” the ancient and modern sages of the world would claim. “What faith in God's love,” the Christian must reply.
The passage itself builds on the Lord's Prayer. In the Lord's Prayer, which begins some 20 verses before today's gospel, we are told to pray to our Father who is in heaven. Now we hear that our heavenly Father knows our needs. We pray that his kingdom may come. Now we are told that must seek his kingdom and his righteousness and all else will be given to us. We pray that God might take care of our daily needs, our daily bread. Now we are told that we must trust in God to take care of today and not worry about tomorrow.
In this age of information, when nothing is attempted unless it is the result of a thorough consultation, today's gospel affects us the same way it affected the pseudo sages of Jerusalem. It seems irresponsible to put our full trust in God and not to worry about tomorrow. This is the radical faith demanded of all Christians. We are challenged to live as individuals of faith in a materialistically orientated society. We are challenged to live out the Lord's prayer. We are challenged to put faith in God first, to make his kingdom our priority, to trust in him not in our stuff. Today's Gospel is not just a poetic image of God's love, it is a challenge to trust in this love.
These are the radical demands of Christianity. We are to put God first and have faith in Him; then our happiness is no longer dependent on the contents of our closets, our bookshelves, our cars, boats or houses, or even the people who move in and out of our lives. When we put God first, our happiness flows from the experience of the presence of God's love in our lives. When we put God first, we have the time, no, more than that, we have the ability to look at the birds of the sky and flowers of the fields and say, “God, how beautiful they are. How good You are. How caring You are.”
In today's Gospel the Lord calls us to enjoy life by trusting in him. If we develop that attitude of faith, then whenever the events of our lives become heavy, when calamity strikes individuals or relationships in a family, we can call on the presence of the Lord to care for us, to share our burdens. "Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome," Jesus will say later on in the Gospel of Matthew, "My yoke is easy, my burden is light."
May the Lord give us the faith to trust in the power of His love in our lives.