Eating Bird by Sawyer Atkins (2012) via Flickr, CC

 

I spent hours fretting over what I would wear and serve at a recent dinner party. What a waste! I can’t believe the anxiety I nurture sometimes, over things large and small alike. So when I read this Sunday’s readings, I hear Jesus speaking right to me:  Stop worrying, he says. Rest in me!
 
Right off the bat, the first reading could be me: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me” (Is 49:14).  But no, he answers — I can’t forget you any more than a mother could forget her infant child! It’s a perfect setup for the Gospel, which is from Matthew 6:24-34. I pulled out my Bible to spend time there, and was confronted with four questions that Jesus asks his disciples.  As simple as they are, they get at the heart of the unrest that can rule our lives:
 
1. Where are your priorities?
“Do not worry . . . Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (vs. 25)
Why spend time and energy worrying about what you’ll wear or eat? There’s so much more to life! Jesus isn’t saying don’t plan, or don’t be concerned if you’re in need, but don’t stress over it. The translation of the word “worry” means literally to “pull apart.” Is concern edging into anxiety, pulling you apart to the point where you miss out on what’s important?
 
2. Don’t underestimate your value to God!
“Look at the birds…. Are you not more important than they?” (vs. 26)
The birds don’t plant or reap and stockpile food, Jesus says, yet God provides for them. The point is not that we shouldn’t either, but that God, who cares for the birds, cares far more for us. He didn’t make you his child just to abandon you. Do you know how very much God loves and cares for you?
 
3. Worrying won’t help
“Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (vs. 27)
Worry is worthless. Like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you very far. Not only will worry not buy you new clothes or put food on your table, it can tear you apart inside and lead to all kinds of physical and spiritual ailments. We should do what we can, then leave it with God. Are you giving worry undue control of your heart, as though it might solve your problems?
 
4. Have faith in God who cares and knows your needs
“Why are you anxious about clothes? . . .  if God so clothes the grass of the field, … will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?” (vss. 28-30)
Ahh. Here is what is really under all that worry. Not the circumstances, as though we have no choice but to worry when there are things that we lack, but our little faith.
As Jesus goes on to say in vs. 32, “all these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” Food and clothing are first on their minds. Why? Because they don’t know God as a loving, caring Father. Instead, their future hangs in the hands of fate and fortune and it’s every man for himself. No wonder they worry. Jesus proposes a different way to his followers:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be given you besides” (vs. 33).
 
What do you seek, above all else? Does your thought-life reflect faith in God or trust in yourself and fortune? And if you have trouble resting in God, what is the answer?
As usual, the Responsorial Psalm provides a bridge between the first reading and Gospel. Meditate on Psalm 62 and it will help you rest your soul “in God alone.” Read it from a lectionary several times (or click here) and notice the subtle shift in wording at the start of the first two stanzas. Make this psalm your prayer today and consider sharing below how God moves you from worry to hope in his loving care.
About the Author:
Sarah Christmyer  is co-developer and founding editor of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program.  The author of numerous Bible studies and several guided journals for Bible reading, she speaks at conferences and retreats on topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith.  She teaches at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Follow her blog at ComeIntotheWord.com
Showing 3 comments
  • Kitty Cleveland
    Reply

    Beautiful reminder, Sarah! Thank you! xoxo

  • Judy Skenandore
    Reply

    Wonderful reminder! Thank you for your insight!

  • Barbara
    Reply

    Thank you for the thoughtful reflections on these Sunday readings. I especially like the attention given to the psalm… the subtle. Hange in words is beautiful and powerful. My grandson’s Baptism was yesterday so these reflections were timely and I felt prepared spuritually. Thank you!

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