Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
From the beginning of the Bible to its end, as the story of God and God’s people is told, the question is asked in many ways. Can God be trusted? This question keeps popping up because we human beings have a hard time understanding and accepting the faithfulness of God. The Bible, of course, affirms God’s trustworthiness, as today’s readings make clear. Isaiah proclaims that God is more trustworthy than anyone or anything, because we are God’s beloved. What might living in this trust look like? Jesus tells us we can let go of our exaggerated worries, even about our basic needs for food and clothing. We can trust God to provide what we need most. Saint Paul goes further to ask: knowing that we can trust God, how might we become trustworthy to God? How might we live so as to honor God’s trust in us?
A QUESTION OF ALLEGIANCE
Powerful imagery about God is presented in today’s readings: a tender mother (Isaiah); a rock and stronghold (Psalm 62); a father who feeds (Matthew). These images remind us that God first promises love and loyalty to us, God’s children. In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to “seek first the kingdom” within God’s promise.
When Jesus describes the Kingdom, he invokes a term not only from scripture, but from daily life. For many in this part of the ancient world, the term “kingdom” was not used strictly as a matter of geography, as when someone crosses a border from one kingdom to another. Kingdom was a matter of primary loyalty to the person acknowledged as king (or queen). One “inhabits” a kingdom by remaining loyal to the king or queen, regardless of geographic location.
The stark choice presented by Jesus in today’s Gospel, between mammon and God, is a question of allegiance. Who or what receives your primary loyalty? For whose purposes will you commit your life?
ANXIETY OR HOPE
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus touches upon deep matters of the heart. In today’s Gospel passage, he names the hidden fears and anxieties of his listeners. It’s likely that many of his listeners lived in poverty, with extremely limited and uncertain supplies of food and clothing. Jesus did not trivialize their physical needs. With tenderness, he invited them to trust their needs to God’s care.
We are all aware that the future is uncertain. What seems solid today can evaporate tomorrow. Jesus knows of our anxieties, about what or who is trustworthy. We can build elaborate physical, financial, or emotional defenses to protect ourselves against future harm. Or, trusting in God and reaching out in vulnerability, we can build relationships of mutual care with others. We can choose to live in anxiety or in hope. As Jesus put it, we can choose to serve mammon or to serve God.
Today’s Readings: Is 49:14–15; Ps 62:2–3, 6–9; 1 Cor 4:1–5; Mt 6:24–34