Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 2, 2014

•Isaiah 49:14-15 • 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 • Matthew 6:24-34 ,8 Ordinary A’14•

Weekly Scripture Readings: Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

For the sake of “national security,” our nation possesses nearly 10,000 nuclear warheads, and our military presence on land, sea and air encompasses the planet. Our largest budgetary expenditures are for “National Security” which includes Pentagon, C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the Dept. of Homeland Security. Apparently that concept of “national security” is the priority of the majority of our citizens. That is so ironic! We claim to be Christian people, a Christian nation. Yet we seem to simply ignore the life and teaching of Jesus.

Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount is an artificially constructed summary of the core elements of the “gospel,” – the teaching and life of Jesus. In this text Matthew clarifies what it means to follow and imitate the Risen One.

Jesus knew God is love. In his life and death he demonstrated the transformative power of love. In him we see what we are capable of becoming when love is the basis of our actions.

Five times in today’s gospel text we heard the word — “worry.” “Do no worry about your life or your body, saying, what will I eat, or what will I drink, or what will I wear.” “Who by worrying can add a single moment to your life-span?” “Do not worry about tomorrow.”

Anxiety is a feeling of fear and unease. We humans have needs. Our needs are real and often pressing. They are not to be denied or dismissed. The future is always an unknown and the primary source of anxiety is concern for our personal well being or that of our family. That is why we have insurance policies and savings accounts. We all experience anxiety and clearly it is the basis for our “national security” policy.

Personally I have a place to live. I have retirement funds. I know the comfort of friends. I have no reason to be anxious. Yet the demons often intrude and invade my soul with doubts and questions about my own future. “If this or that happens, will anyone care?”

Matthew’s Jesus provides a remedy for anxiety. He invites us to turn outward rather than inward. Look at the natural world, the birds and the wildflowers. That sounds reasonable until I realize that every year millions of birds die in collision with glass windows, power lines or wind turbines. I relish the wildflowers but know their season of glory is brief. Personal health is tenuous. Accidents happen. Death is a reality.

Jesus lived out of the conviction that God is love; that God surrounds and embraces us with love; that God is like a parent who never forgets his/her child and will never forget or abandon us. In response Jesus was single-hearted in his determination to live his life fully every day trusting in that Gracious Mystery he spoke of as “Father.”

We know that in spite of his trust, he was violently murdered. Yet his trust was validated when that Gracious Mystery we name God raised him from death.

In counseling us not to worry, not to be anxious, Jesus is simply urging us to live as he lived. In a deeper sense he was calling us to be present to one another in a manner we will enable each of us to live without worry or anxiety. All of us need to know that others care for us and that in our deepest needs we will be cared for. When we live among and are loved and supported by one another in this way, we re one another to live in the present moment, trusting our future in God.

Time is a great mystery. We are alive today and today is filled with unknown possibilities. Tomorrow — the future is yet to be discovered. Place your life today and your unknown and uncertain future into God’s leading care. Try to live life in the present without worry or anxiety about tomorrow. Those who live today trusting that God is in each and every moment, find that life’s ups and life’s downs take care of themselves.

 

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