Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself. Is that the message of (last) Sunday’s Gospel? There was a song years ago “Don’t Worry be Happy.” Is that what Jesus is telling us?
I think we need to remember this reading is part of the Sermon on the Mount that started with the Gospel five weeks ago with the Beatitudes. At that time, we heard Jesus sit down with His disciples and begin to teach them. When I hear the Beatitudes, I think of them as showing us the attitude we should have toward life and those around us. And, each of these weeks since then have expanded on that: we are to be salt of the earth and let our light shine to others; we are to fulfill the law and the prophets; we are to forgive. And then we hear that we should not worry.
When was the last time you worried about how you were going to get your next meal? I know many of us who have lunch here on a regular basis ask “What are we having for lunch today?” Or, in my family, when we have been on vacation together, as we finish breakfast someone asks, “What are we doing for lunch?” And at lunch, “What are we doing for dinner?”
For most of us, it is a matter of a choice of what we are going to have; the question is not if we are going to have anything to eat. The same thing is true about clothes; it’s not “Do I have a coat to wear?” but “Which coat will I wear?” Most of us are in a position where we don’t need to worry because we have more that we need. But, there are many people around us who do worry about those things. Can we find a better way to distribute food resources around the world?
I have a neighbor who lives on disability and often expresses his concern about how he is going to meet his expenses. If you travel on the subway or drive on the city highways, you may have encountered people who don’t have enough to eat and look like they could use a better coat. Maybe we need to worry about them and look for things that can be done so they don’t need to worry. All we need to do is look at the newspaper or listen to the news for sources of worry. Clean drinking water in Newburgh, shootings and stabbings in what were considered safe neighborhoods, people being deported, corrupt business people, schemes to prey on the elderly to get their money, internet fraud: the list can go on.
Then, we hear that there is another way. Jesus tells his followers,
“Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. Don’t worry about food or drink or clothes, 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 besides.”
In saying this, Jesus shows us the attitude we should have toward life and those around us. How am I salt of the earth and light for others? Do I follow the letter of the law of Moses, or do I explore ways to be in right relationship with all of creation? And when I am not in right relationship do I seek and offer forgiveness?
As a teacher, I have an assignment for you for this week. It’s appropriate for Lent:
Reflect on worry in your life: is it blocking you from seeking the kingdom of God?
For Lent, many of us fast from certain foods, etc. Might fasting from worry draw you closer to God?