Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time A Reflections by Fr. Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 49:14-15; Psalm 62:2-9; 1 Cor 4:1-5 and Matt 6:24-34
Does God really care about us?
The lessons of the readings of this Sunday particularly that of Matthew’s Gospel and Paul both are hidden in the lessons from the first reading, Prophet Isaiah Chapter 49:14-15, that God’s affection for us is greater than the love a Mom has for her child. In Matthew Jesus stresses the danger of possessiveness, acquisitiveness, greediness, and pursuit of perishable treasures. He stresses the need not to be over anxious about things in this life (Matt 6:24-34). And Paul defenses his ministry against negative criticism and underlines the need for Christians to remain heaven focus through how we live here on earth with one another.
Christ says, “No one can serve two masters” (Matt 6:24). You and I know that sometimes possessions and wealth can distract us from serving God, from giving God our complete obedience. If we want to use the example of service here, an employed staff, worker or servant is expected to be completely dedicated to his or her duties. This had been the rules even from ancient times and that of Jesus.
Christ went on to say, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” Do not be anxious about your life, food, house, what to wear. For the poor and the destitute in Matthew’s community this must be have been a very tough sermon to assimilate at first hearing. Is it possible for anyone poor or rich to stay without worries about anything at all in life, be it food, roof over their heads, or jobs with good benefits that are sometimes not easy to come by? Or is it just enough for us to remain lazy at home with the imagination that God will walk into our door and dress us up like the grasses in the field and with beautiful colors like those birds there in the sky?
In our relationship with God, in as much as Jesus is not encouraging laziness, Jesus wants us in our various positions in this life, rich and poor to be completely and wholeheartedly trusting in God without limit, confident that the Heavenly Father would always provide for us in the most difficult worrisome situations of our lives.
What are your worries? Human worries will always be there. But we have to surrender them to God, recognizing His care.
For example, the other day I took a cap ride from the airport to our parish. The lady cap driver was a mother of two children, all boys. As soon as she knew that I was a Catholic priest, and cheerful, she was very relaxed, opened up to me. And our conversation from the city ride to Holbrook was on her two lovely boys, Catholic baptized and how smart they are. Two boys never for once talked back to their father nor to her. She said she was very closed them. And they were very closed to her. Her greatest worries were actually not food, nor what to eat or wear, but she was going to be by herself when they two children would leave for college.
You see, not all worries are about food and clothing. Anxiety is never monopoly of the poor. Many worry about their children, their health, their love ones, the exams they had just taken, will I pass or not. Some worry about their investments. There have been rich people with a lot of money and property who cannot go to bed at night because they are constantly worried that they would lose all their money to thieves, fraudulent individuals or to stumbling and crumbling in stock market. And they would return to the level of material poverty. Some cannot go to bed because they are worried they will lose whatever power they think they have.
There are some families that are like the Corinthian community Paul was addressing today’s in the Second Reading (1 Cor 4:1-5), overtaken by quarrel, envy, jealousy, negative criticism, possessiveness, controlling and talking back loudly to one another. If you are from such a family or community I am sure it worries you when you are driving back home from work or school.
We all have these worries. It is a darkness part of our lives. Sometimes the darkness might be so intense like in the case of those who returned from exile in the first reading, to embrace a devastating community with harsh economic and political realities. Some thought God had forsaken them. There moments we want to know where God is! The truth of the matter is that He has not forgotten us. Just as a good mother would not forget her nursing child God will never forget nor forsake us in our worries and difficulties(in our search for peace in our homes, for the healing our loved ones, for that job to come our way, for a better understanding of ourselves in our homes, parish community, and work environment). Even should a nursing mother forget her baby God will never forget us.” In fact, God’s affection for us is even stronger than the love of a mother nursing to her baby (Isa 49:14-15).
And if God could care for plants and birds, God cares for us all the more. God will always be there for us in every circumstances of our lives provided we belief and trust in Him.