THE LORD SAID, "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
"No one can serve two masters because a servant will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth).
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add one cubit to your height? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you - you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things, and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
"Do not worry..."
Wouldn't it be nice not to worry about anything? Will the current state of affairs in our nation further divide us and lead to something worse than riots? How many more lives will the coronavirus take and will it come up with a second wave? Will things ever return to normal (however we define or imagine normal to be)?
These are worries on the grand scale. Then we have "smaller" scale worries - how will the current economic situation impact me and my family? Can I afford (health-wise) to send my kids to camps and school? What will the future bring?
"Do not worry about you life..."
Are these words of comfort or warning? Is the Lord guaranteeing that everything will be ok? It's important to see what Jesus is not saying here - He is not promising that if we have faith, then everything will be given to us. He is telling us not to worry about food, clothing, and possessions. Why? Because no matter how much or little we eat, we still die. No matter how much or little we put on ourselves, we are still cold in winter and hot in summer. No matter how much wealth we accumulate, as the saying goes, it's worthless to us when we are in a grave.
What the Lord is saying? "Your heavenly Father knows what you need." God provides and feeds the animals, and adorns the plants. In the same manner He provides and feeds us. It is not us who accomplish these things. We take part in it, but we are the not source of the things that we have. God gives us skills, smarts, and opportunities to accomplish things. He provides, we use these opportunities for His glory and our benefit.
Christ is warning against anxiety, "do not worry," not against thoughtful planning. We've been given a rational mind to use God's gifts with prudence. Jesus is not forbidding us to work, but rather to give ourselves over entirely to our cares and neglecting God in the process.
If we shouldn't worry about our life, what should we do?
"Strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." And how do we strive for it? By confessing Christ, by hearing His word and doing it. If our heart is clean and pure, we do not need to worry about these things, not that nothing bad will ever happen to us. There is more to our earthly life, as precise and as important as it is. Whatever we suffer in this life pales in comparison to what we will experience in the eternity.
This does not mean that we will never go without food. Rather, if we have to go without food, we will get through it with God's help. God transformed death from something that signified an end, to a new beginning. He has given meaning to our suffering and joy, or life in general. He has not, however, eliminated our ability to screw up or get up. Therefore, "strive first for the Kingdom of God," and all other necessary things will be thrown in.
For last year's reflection, click here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest