|by Angela Lambert|
February 26th, 2017; 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Gospel of Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink? ‘or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
Jesus is asking, “Do I want to be a Worrier or a Wildflower?” Wildflower please!
But, you may say, it’s the worriers who get things done. They’re so responsible. Wildflowers are pretty, but just passive and weak. I have found, however, in observation of both myself and others, that worrying gives all the appearance of work but very little actual productivity. Worrying tends to trigger stress reactions and slow a person down, if not paralyze them with anxiety altogether. Wildflowers, on the other hand, look pretty and effortless, but retain a genetic hardiness that manages to survive the severest attempts at eradication – from fire, to flood, to weed killer – they just keep coming back…and spreading!
The fuller life becomes, the more we try to juggle. The temptation to be super-mom or dad, super-boss, super-coach, super-spouse, super-friend, and more, can be difficult enough; add to that attempting to be them all simultaneously, and we can push ourselves over the edge!
Good motivations often drive us, and love energizes us. Nevertheless, too much of any good thing can become a bad thing. In our effort to be the best at everything, and for everyone, stress builds and our human limitations frustrate us.
Even just two loves can divide us – competing for space in our thoughts, ideas, time, passion, and energies. The limits of reality force us to prioritize. Saying no to one thing however, means getting to say yes to another. If we don’t prioritize, and say yes to whatever calls loudest or appears first, will result in saying no to something else, which might be far more important.
Jesus asks us to do a reality check. Only one thing can be at the top of the priority list, and thereby direct all the choices below it. If we choose God, everything else will fall into place. If we choose anything else – self, pleasing others, ambition, beauty, fame, wealth – God will be edged out.
When we rely on anything but God for security and happiness, worry always ensues. A classical philosopher and theologian, Boethius (480A.D.-525 A.D.), wrote a famous work which examined this truth called The Consolation of Philosophy. In it he portrays a “wheel of fortune” (not like the tv show!), which as it spins brings a man from depths to heights to depths again. He reflects on how all people desire to secure happiness but they mistakenly look to wealth, power, fame, honor, or pleasure. None of these, however, can deliver on the false hope we place in them, because each relies on external factors outside one’s control. If we cling to this illusion, he asserts, we spin round and round on the wheel in endless restlessness.
Where can we find security? Where can we find refuge from worry and from the innumerable things outside of our control? In the Lord. God is not in our control, and that makes us vulnerable. But God IS trustworthy, all-powerful, and Merciful Love. Let’s face it, we feel in control when we rely on ourselves first, but it’s not actually true. We can’t control other people, and sometimes we can’t even control ourselves very well. We blurt out, when we wanted to stay quiet. We stay quiet, when we wanted to speak up. And so on. We don’t even work in our best interest all the time – whether from our inevitably limited knowledge or experience, or from financial or emotional pressures. God, on the other hand, works with perfect knowledge, moved by infinite love, and almighty power to “bring to completion the good work He began” (Philippians 1:6). In truth, He’s the only one we can rely on for secure happiness unimpeded by outside forces.
One of my kids is a worrier. He thinks ahead about all the possible problems and preparations and can become overwhelmed. When he was smaller it was particularly difficult for him since his ability to help was so small. I would comfort him by insisting that he let me be the mom and that he just take care of his responsibilities as a kid. Christ says the same thing to us in this passage. Yes, there are many things to fear and far too many things outside our control that can harm us. But there is nothing too difficult for God, who acts at every moment as our Loving Father and whose Son shares our burden. As Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:29-30)
So, be a wildflower. Root where God plants you, soak up His sunshine, drink in His rain. He will provide every necessary strength for you to endure anything, and to be beautiful while you do.
- What is your favorite wildflower? What do you admire about it?
- Consider how strong and resistant wildflowers are. How can trusting in God strengthen you?
- How does worry undermine your work? How does it interfere with your relationships with others? How does it affect your relationship with God?
- Reflect on all the good things God has provided for you, in difficult times as well as in your everyday. Consider His consistent care.
- Reflect on Christ’s promise, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, everything else will be provided. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what this means for you in your life.
- Prayerfully make a priority list. Include God, family, work, hobbies, etc. Ask Christ for the grace to evaluate the list and to keep things in the right order. Consider what changes may need to take place.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Pray a psalm of trust each day this week. Recommended: Psalms 23, 46, 62, and 119.
- Make a list, and keep an ongoing journal, of God’s daily blessings.
- Look back on it when tempted to worry.
- Glance at it each morning, and remember that you are God’s wildflower.
- Review your priority list periodically to make sure you are saying yes to the things that matter most.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2017
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