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February 27 Eighth Sunday Ordinary Time Year A
Readings: Is 49:14-15; 1 Cor 4:1-5; Matt 6:24-34
The readings of this Sunday help us to stop worrying in order to focus on God’s care for us. They challenge us to be more trusting and hopeful, the contrary of what seems to surround us in the world of today. The prophet Isaiah reminds us of such a situation in his own time when he quotes Zion (the Jewish people) saying, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” That is a language of despair, hopelessness and loneliness. In a world of unwanted children, it seems that even the worst fears of the prophet Isaiah have come true, that a mother would abandon her own infant. The Lord through the prophet Isaiah is quick to remind the people that even though a mother may forget her baby, He will never forget them. That is why in the Second Reading Paul, sensing the same kind of loss of hope in God, uses another useful metaphor - God’s stewardship, to remind Corinthians not to lose hope and to remember God’s steadfast love. One of the basic qualities of a steward is trustworthiness. God’s promise that He will never abandon us is enough for us to never, never lose hope, no matter what happens to us in this painful and confusing world. Even when we feel abandoned by others, God is always there for us. Psalm 62 used for our meditation this Sunday highlights that same message. “Only in God is my soul at rest; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.” (62:2-3).
Jesus in the Gospel continues that message of complete trust and hope in God. He uses concrete images from nature to show his disciples that God cares for all his creatures. “Look at the birds of the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them…..Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon …was clothed like one of them.” Do not worry therefore. Even the creatures know and trust in God who cares for them. What Jesus is driving at in this passage is to persuade us to stop worrying so that we can “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” God in turn will care for all our other needs. In the 1963 Award winning movie, “The Lilies of the Field”, starring Sydney Poitier, there is a scene in the beginning where the mother superior says to Homer Smith, “God is good He has sent me a big strong man to build the chapel.” When Homer Smith asks for his just wages, mother superior tries to tell him not to worry too much about money and quotes the Bible “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin.” (Mt. 6:28). Since God cares so much for his creation, He will certainly care for us. It is that kind of faith and trust in God that we all need in today’s world. Many women and men down the centuries have accepted the invitation of Jesus in today’s passage, to leave everything and follow Him. They freed themselves from worry and relied totally on God for their needs. One example that comes to mind is St. Francis of Assisi. After gradual conversion, Francis gave away all his fancy clothes and walked away naked in the streets of Assisi, to the embracement of his wealthy family! We are called to that radical trust in God, seeking first for the kingdom of God. Another example of someone who lived a radical trust in God is Mother Teresa. Her attitude to whatever she needed for her work for the poor of the poorest was that "God will provide whatever we need." That radical trust frees us from worrying too much about the means, in order to focus on the people we served, knowing that God in His compassion and care will indeed provide through the kindness of those who see the good we do for others. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) If God cares so much for the animals and the plants, how much more will God care for us human beings? 2) The readings therefore help us to be more trusting and hopeful; they help us to free ourselves from worry, in order to focus on God’s care for us. 3) We are called a radical trust in God, like St. Francis of Assisi and Blessed Mother Teresa, seeking first the kingdom of God, which means placing ourselves totally in the hands of God for our needs.
©2011 John Mbinda