The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

8 Sunday in the Ordinary Time – A

Our hearts are restless because we worry about tomorrow, we fear what might happen or we think that only in some future time we will be happy. Jesus invites us to trust in God, to serve him now. "Only in God is my soul at rest..."

Maybe you heard about a book “Confessions”. In that book a young man from North Africa tells about his search for meaning. At first he sought happiness in the pleasures of drinking, eating and sex. When those things left his soul empty, he began to pursue oriental philosophies. They seemed more sophisticated than the Bible he had listened to as a child. But something about those philosophies did not ring true, so he decided that he spend his life making money - and making a name for himself. At certain point - it was like a divine intervention - he experienced a conversion. He wound up dedicating himself totally to God. The young man's name was Augustine - and after St. Paul he is considered the Church's greatest theologian. St. Augustine summed up his quest for meaning in these words: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

St. Augustine has spoken to Christians through the centuries because we identify with his experience. Our hearts are restless - and nothing in this world can give us enduring peace. Today's Psalm says "Rest in God alone, my soul..." In the Gospel Jesus tells us how to find peace in God.

Jesus lays it on the line. "No man can serve two masters...You cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon means more than simply money. The word comes from a Hebrew root that means "to entrust" - like today we speak about credit, trust funds and bonds. Mammon came to mean "that in which a man places his trust."

Where is your treasure there is your heart.

In today's Gospel Jesus identifies one of the signs of clinging to a false god: worry. A person devoted to an idol becomes consumed with worry. What will happen if I lose the thing that gives my life meaning? I have talked to people who know that alcohol is ruining their lives - but they cannot stand the thought of living without alcohol. It has become a false god. But it is similar with money, with pornography, with any kind of false god, with any kind of addiction.

Jesus invites us to turn from idols and to trust in God. He uses the example of a wild flower. Palestine has a scarlet poppy that blooms in a single day. No ancient ruler, no Hollywood actress could dress so beautifully. If God can do that for an insignificant flower, why do we worry so much?

Regarding freedom from worry a story is told about a German mystic named Tauler.

  • "God give you a good day," Tauler said to the beggar.

  • - "I thank God, sir, that I never had a bad one." said the beggar, "I thank God that I am never unhappy."

In amazement Tauler asked him what he meant.

  • "Well," said the beggar, "when it is fine, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have plenty, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God; and since God's will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?"

Tauler then asked the man, "Who are you?"

  • The beggar replied, "I am a king."

  • "Where then is your kingdom?" asked Tauler.

  • The beggar answered quietly: "In my heart."

The beggar was a king because he had learned how to live in the present moment. The devil is constantly trying to get us to live in the future - either fearing something that might happen or dreaming about a time when everything will be perfect. God wants us to live in present moment. Jesus tells us not worry about tomorrow. For sure, we need to spend some time preparing - that is part of love and it is today's duty. But none of us own tomorrow. The only moment we have is now. Jesus assures us that if we ask for our daily bread, if we try to love the person God has placed in our lives today, well, "tomorrow will take care of itself."

So we are back to St. Augustine. Our hearts are restless because we worry about tomorrow, we fear what might happen or we think that only in some future time we will be happy. Jesus invites us to trust in God, to serve him now. Only in God is my soul at rest.

Jesus is inviting us to place our trust wholly in the Father who created all things. He assures us that he will provide for us even in the most extreme circumstances.

I am sure that each one of us can call to mind difficult situations in life when something unexpected turned up just in the nick of time. Sometimes we just know deep in our hearts that this was not some random accident but the very hand of God protecting us.

I am not counselling anyone to be irresponsible, I am not suggesting that you throw everything away and expect God to come to your rescue. And neither is Jesus. What he is saying is that we should not worry about material possessions or lack of them.

Jesus does not want us to become consumed with material desires or completely tied up in amassing wealth. He is helping us to understand that these are passing things and invites us to place our trust in God.

He is telling us that these preoccupations diminish our stature as human beings.

The right attitudes of the Christian are to be found in the virtues: faith, hope and charity being the highest of those virtues. If we live our lives aiming to achieve perfection in these things then we might not live our lives smoothly, but we certainly will have lived it well.

In other words we can say:

We are unhappy not because have not enough, but because we worry too much, we search for too much.

We are happy not because we have everything we need but because we don’t need everything.

from the page HOMILIES

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