25 February, 2014

Homily for the Second Sunday before Lent (A) 2014

Matthew 6:25-34

Here's a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy.
In my edition of the Bible the gospel passage we have heard this morning is footnoted as, A warning against allowing concerns for basic needs to supersede God’s rule. In this passage Jesus addresses two very basic human needs; food and clothing. He talks to those who have left behind the comfort of their homes and he confronts their fears head on. He says, Do not worry about … what you will eat or what you will drink, or about … what you will wear (6:25).
But then Jesus goes further. Jesus takes into account the innate human desire to look good, and the yearning for beauty. So, in saying that Solomon, in spite of all his kingly splendour, could never compare himself to the magnificence of the lily, Jesus also reminds his disciples that they are of infinitely greater worth than any other living creature; therefore, the Father will surely clothe them with true beauty if they only have the constancy to wait upon Him.
But then Jesus goes further still. Jesus addresses his disciples’ concerns in a more general way which transcends the simple needs for food, clothing, and being comfortable in their own skin. He says to them and to us, Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today (6:34).

Do not worry about tomorrow. This is a difficult saying of Jesus which often goes unheeded. In some ways, it seems diametrically opposite to other sayings about planning ahead and being mindful of the treacherous situations some disciples are going to encounter (Cf. Luke 14:28-31). But what Jesus is really saying here is to strive to live in the present moment; something that can only be truly grasped if we genuinely believe in a God who is creator, Father, and provider.
Do not worry about tomorrow. Live in the present moment; not bitter about the past, not overly concerned about the future, and not fearful about what is going to happen to you. Live in the present moment; only by doing so you will be able to de-clutter heart and mind from passing worries. Live in the present moment; only by doing so you will be able to focus all your attention on God. If you strive to do his will, here and now, beginning with little things, He who is your creator, Father, and provider, will not fail to supply you with what you need and more.

The past few days have been interesting for the Church of England to say the least. Our Church seems to be experiencing a little trouble both at a national and at diocesan level. We have had an terrible pastoral statement from the House of Bishops and we have heard sometimes confusing talks about possible plans for the future of our local parishes. All these things are genuine causes of worry but in the midst of our temptations to panic and overreact Jesus’ words come as a welcome reminder that our vocation as Christians is not to worry. Our calling as Christians is to place our faith in a generous and faithful God who knows us and provides for us. 
We can think about tomorrow, but we mustn’t worry about it. We have a duty to plan for tomorrow, but we must not allow our concerns to sway us from focusing on God. We must live in the present moment.

Don't worry, be happy. Jesus is not Bobby McFerrin. Merely saying, "Don't worry, be happy" doesn’t quite work from a Christian point of view. So I would like to end my homily with some better words, 
Let nothing disturb you, 
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

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