February 28, 2017
Paulist Fr. Rich Andre preached this homily for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A) on February 26, 2017 at St. John XXIII Parish in Knoxville, TN. The homily is based on the day’s readings: Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; and Matthew 6:24-34.
Today, we have a rare and wonderful treat: one of my absolute favorite passages in the entire Bible. First, Jesus tells us that we can’t serve both God and wealth. Then, he gives an impassioned call to trust that God will provide for us. I could probably benefit from praying with this passage every month of my life, if not every week or every day. This might be an ideal reflection for us as we prepare for Lent.
Let us drink deeply from our Scriptures, especially the gospel passage, remembering that God provides us with abundant graces.
I’m currently at something of a “sweet spot” in my priestly ministry. I’ve learned how to handle a lot of the basics. It’s so different from my first few years here at St. John XXIII Parish, where it seemed that every day there were multiple “firsts.” I am so grateful to all y’all’s love and support in my first years of ministry, when I often felt as if I was flying by the seat of my pants!
Right now, I often have the luxury to decide how many new ministry experiences I feel comfortable taking on. In recent months, I’ve tackled my first wedding en español, expanded my relationships with local homeless and indigent people, and spent a lot of time working with children in our school. Sure, there are plenty of days when the unexpected arises, and I don’t even get to priority #1 on my to-do list. But even then, I’m usually willing to believe that Jesus is speaking to us in this passage as the Christ, the very Word of God. Don’t worry; do the best you can and God will take care of the rest.
This is not how life works for most of us, most of the time. It’s rush, rush, rush, from deadline to deadline. And I know that some day, probably sooner rather than later, I will once again be responsible for a bewildering number of things, many of them outside of my comfort zone. When those days return, will I be able to hear this passage as God’s wisdom, or will it sound like impractical advice from an unemployed carpenter living in a long-ago time and a different culture?
Most of us delude ourselves into thinking there’s a time and a place in the near future when there will be less to worry about. “After midterms, I’ll have a chance to get my act together.” “Once I have a full-time job, I’ll have free time in the evenings.” “After this big project at work is done, then I’ll have the time to get organized.” “Once I’m married…” “Once the baby is born…” “When the kids go off to college…” “When I retire…” We take for granted the gifts and joys of today, because we’re hyper-focused on the future, or on how things could be different than they are right now.
Actually, there is a time and a place in the future when it will all make sense: eternity in heaven. And frankly, the only thing for us to worry about is getting there. When we get there, God will have taken care of all the details for us. As a former John XXIII parishioner said: “When I worry about something, I ask myself, ‘Will this matter in a million years?’ If not, why worry about it now?”
The human solution to anxiety is to always be in charge. The heavenly solution is to trust in God. We have to make a choice. We cannot serve both God and mammon.
At the 9 am Mass today, we baptized little David into the faith, and at 5:30 pm, we’re going to send our candidates and catechumens off, with the blessings of this community, to meet Bishop Stika. I hate to break it to you, but the graces of the sacraments are given to us in anticipation of the challenges ahead. The water of David’s baptism represents – among other things – drowning. At the 5:30 pm Mass, we will literally be asking our catechumens and candidates to embrace the cross. But Patrick and Anna are baptizing David – and these six men and women are embracing the cross – to become more deeply involved in a faith that says that, at the heart of it, God’s in charge. And God’s plans for us are better than anything that we could dream up ourselves!
As with any important endeavor in life, we’ve got to do our part to make things happen. But we must trust that God’s role in the endeavor is essential, too.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
will he not much more provide for you?
Do not worry about your life.
Do not worry about tomorrow.
Do not worry.