Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 49: 14-15; 1 Cor 4: 1-5; Mt 6: 24-34
Deacon Larry Brockman
“I will never forget you”. These are the Lord’s words to Zion this morning. And that’s each and every one of us- we are all part of Zion.
You know, it is really hard to conceive of just how much God loves each one of us. Each and every one of us was specially created by God. That means God thought about you, just you, and made you what you are. Each of us was given a unique set of talents, a unique body, and our own immortal soul. We are all one of a kind; there will never be another you.
And God loves all of us equally. Why would God create a being in his image and likeness that he didn’t love? God loved us so much he gave us a free will- so that we can determine our own destiny. But our main choice is whether we return to God or not.
Now we are even loved by God when we are sinners. In Luke’s Gospel, he tells a parable about the lost sheep. Yes, God goes after each lost sheep because he loves them. God is relentless in his pursuit of each one of us too. It’s that little voice in your conscience you hear all the time.
Realistically, all of us are sinners. It may be a matter of degree, but none of us is perfect. And if we feel that we are perfect, or close to it, we are deceiving ourselves. Part of the lesson of life is to realize that and to recognize and accept the suffering, disappointment, and imperfection that are part of life for each one of us. It’s part of God’s plan that we be tested and follow his script for dealing with our test. His script is the Gospel.
We also learn by recognizing that all the bad things that happen to our neighbors but for the grace of God can happen to us as well. Even when we are on a high plateau in our lives, it is all temporary; it can and probably will change. So, understand that God and God alone is under control. Humility is recognizing the truth of one’s status. And the fact is that no matter who you are, you are not in control. When you embrace that fact and all the uncertainty that it entails, then you will know and understand yourself better, and that is true humility.
Now I say all this because this morning our Gospel calls us to recognize that worrying is another limitation we have as human beings. We worry about our problems, our status, our future, and all kinds of things. But the fact is that we really don’t have control over the events of our life, God does. So, it is pointless to excessively worry about them. Just as we must accept that suffering and imperfection are part of every life, we also have to accept that excessive worrying over things makes no sense.
Because God loves you that means, as Isaiah remarked, that he will never forget you. If you really believe that God will never forget you, then the thing that each of us must do is to trust in God. That may be easier to say than to do. Just how do we trust in God that all of those things we worry about will be taken care of?
Well, that brings us to the topic of serving just one of two masters. In 19th century US politics there was a term called a Mugwump. A Mugwump had his “mug” on one side of the political fence, and his “wump” on the other. So, a Mugwump tried to play both sides of the fence at the same time. It was a derogatory term that accurately described people who tried to finesse the system. It just didn’t work. Jesus is also telling us you cannot do that; you cannot have it both ways. You either belong to this world and the Master of this world, which is the devil and his followers, or you belong to Christ, and have a trusting relationship with God.
If you belong to this world, you attempt to be in total control of your life. You will determine how each need will be met; you will take care of yourself- even if it is at the expense of others. And you will depend on all of your abilities. It’s all up to you; you don’t need God. So when things don’t go your way, you will worry. And you will worry and worry.
Now you can try to be a Mugwump, and be in control yourself when things are going well. And then fall back on God when things go wrong. But my point is that it doesn’t work that way. It is all or nothing with God because God reads your heart. And if you have to always be in control, then you haven’t given your heart to him.
If you belong to Christ, then He is your master in this world. That means two things. First, you know God; you have a relationship with him. And like any special relationship that you have, you have to nourish that relationship often. That means you have a regular prayer relationship with God. You can hear him when he talks to you.
Second, you must learn to trust in God always. That means you share your successes with him, and your joy with him because you know God is the source of all blessings. So, you thank God as the source of those blessings- your family, your career, and whatever talents and good things you have. But you also share your sufferings, your worries, and your failures with him. You trust that, just as he helped you with your successes, so he will also help you when you experience things beyond your control.
After all, God has promised that he will never forget you.