March 2, 2014
ORDINARY 8 (A)
Do not worry ….Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. – Mt. 6: 31, 32
God designed & made us for a certain purpose, & He gave us a lifetime guarantee that the product would work. He guarantees that our humanity will be realized, but there is an important condition: Keep GOD at the center of our lives. Wealth can be defined many ways (money or things, beauty or charm, power or prestige, intelligence or skill, to name only a few possibilities). However we define it, it cannot bring us to fulfilment. Only the source of life can do that, & can guarantee it.
When the people of Israel made their exodus from Egypt, a forty year journey through the barren desert, they didn’t even have bread & had to rely on God for something called manna. Whenever we pray for our daily bread in the Our Father, we mean all the necessities of life. But there is also a spiritual component: Jesus said, “My bread is to do my Father’s Will.” Whatever, it is an acknowledgement that we depend on God for everything which makes for the “good life.” Yet until we KNOW we are dependent upon God, until we feel it at gut level, we are cut off from the very gift of life He wants to give us. When our Lord said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” he means people who know they are poor & they know they need new life, & they must depend upon God for it.
Many of us have had a crisis experience that brought us close to what Jesus is getting at here. But then the crisis passed, & we slid back into our self-reliance. Again we began to think of fulfilment in terms of the things WE can acquire rather than the life-giving gifts God offers us. Once again, God was no longer at the center of our lives.
Jesus’ total life style was based on the childlike trust he had in His Father. The key to the kingdom is knowing that even in life’s darkest moments God will not abandon us, that God is 100% trustworthy, that however painful life may become, we can be confident that His goodness will prevail.
Our Lord’s warning that “You cannot give yourself to God & money” is not for our impoverishment but for our enrichment. He wants us to understand that our fulfilment lies in a movement from a lower condition to a higher state, from lesser wealth to greater wealth. Jesus warns us against the false peace of the status quo. He raises our sights to a level higher than anything we could have dreamed of on our own. Our Lord offers us a “somewhere to be” that continually delights & surprises.
Journalist Robert Gordon wrote a series of little anecdotes for his grandson who had asked him for “a half dozen foolproof ideas for bending the world into a pretzel.” In the first story he says,
“Without doubt, the bleakest period in my life so far was the winter of 1942-43. I was with the Eighth Air Force in England. Our bomber bases, hacked out of the sodden English countryside, were seas of mud. On the ground, people were cold, miserable, & homesick. In the air, people were getting shot. Replacements were few, morale was low, but there was one sergeant – a crew chief – who was always cheerful, always good-humored, always smiling. I watched him one day, in a freezing rain, struggle to salvage a fortress that had skidded off the runway into an apparently bottomless mire. He was whistling like a lark. “Sargent,” I said to him sourly, “How can you whistle in a mess life this?” He gave me a mud-caked grin. “Lieutenant,” he said, “when the facts won’t budge, you have to bend your attitudes to fit them, that’s all.”
Attitudes are a matter of choice. Our choice of attitudes depends on our choice of masters. When we give ourselves over to God in childlike trust, we choose not just life, but abundant life. The saints are there to testify that it is all worth it. Lent affords us the opportunity to make that choice. AMEN!