ORDINARY 8 (A)
Seek first the …. – Mt. 6: 33
Why should we? After all, there is the important task of survival in a ‘dog eat dog’ world, & of maintaining our own sanity in a world that too often seems to have lost its mind. The problem is, we are not mere animals, for we have a spiritual dimension that we neglect at our peril.
Story of a young man on the Journey Home show (EWTN) who was what we might call a libertine: he had no religious upbringing , he had indulged all the physical appetites, had been in trouble with the law many times, & could have been seen as “out of control.’ One night, sitting on the edge of his bed, he began to weep, & said to himself, “If this is all there is to life, it isn’t worth living.” That moment was the turning point that led to his conversion to the Catholic faith & eventually to the priesthood.
God, you see, is not a luxury, but a vital dimension of our existence. What dominates our consciousness & dictates our actions is what we ultimately value & defines how we identify ourselves. It masters us. We attend to it so completely that when other concerns seek our attention, we push them away.
This is especially true when our ultimate options are either God or money, or physical pleasures, or just propping up our ego. All these things can be integrated into the life of an individual, but our Lord recognized that it can be done in a healthy way only if God is the master. Telling us not to worry about our physical survival seems to go against a built-in part of the human condition. Life is more than an anxious project of survival. It can be appreciated as a gift from God. Those folks who recognize that the transcendent source of love is aware of our needs are free to entertain another possibility.
That possibility means seeking a way of life grounded in God & in creative service to our brothers, sisters & neighbors. “Tomorrow thinking” & the anxiety it brings is needless overkill. When tomorrow comes it will come with its own worries – and it will be called today. Once money or whatever else (other than God) becomes our master, it does not let go easily. Our pursuit of it can become insatiable, a ceaseless striving that leaves us unfulfilled. We try to fill the God-space in us with something other than God. Nothing else satisfies, but we continue to look for substitutes anyway.
This is why seeking the kingdom of God first is so important. It shows us how to use the powerful tools of money, power, whatever, constructively for our good & the good of others. It also teaches us how to deal with the mental spasms of worry. No small thing, that! AMEN!