02 March, 2017

Homily for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) - Divine Providence

1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus says, ‘Set your hearts on God’s kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all other things will be given you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33)
Over the last couple of Sundays Matthew’s gospel guided us in exploring few fundamental teachings about the Christian life; namely, a call to deepen good habits by letting them be inspired by charity, and a call to love our enemies (Cf. Matthew 5), which ‘constitutes the core of the Christian revolution’ (BXVI, Angelus, 18 February 2007). Today the gospel presents us with another counter-cultural teaching; to place our trust in God for our livelihood – to depend on what is called Divine Providence

Now, depending on God’s Providence does not mean that we should give up our day jobs, and wait around for what we need in order to survive to fall from the sky. Working, the preparation of food, and clothing are all fairly basic parts of what it means to be human and Divine Providence in not meant to supplant the need for these things. But to rely on Providence means to prayerfully put all our trust in God for our wellbeing, having faith that he will never abandon us, and that he will provide in time of need. Although we live in a society that is all too often concerned simply with improving the ways we look, eat, and generate wealth, as Christians, our existence should be marked by constant improvements, not of material conditions, but of the ways in which we act, pray, and ultimately follow the Lord Jesus. Seeking the establishment of the Kingdom of God in our world, and the welfare of the Church; these should be our priorities, and Christ tells us, if we do this all those other things, what we need will be given to us as well.

In our second reading too, Saint Paul shows us how placing our trust in God also helps us also with any worry we might have about the ultimate odds of life; that is, whether or not the Lord will grant to us the eternal life he promises for his faithful servants. Paul says,
‘I will not even pass judgement on myself. True, my conscience does not reproach me at all, but that does not prove that I am acquitted: the Lord alone is my judge.’ (1Cor 4:3-4)
Here Paul is talking about the judgment Christ will bring for everyone at the end of time, and he affirms that this type of judgment is never ours to make even when we think about ourselves. We cannot honestly say “I am blameless before the Lord” just as much as we can never despair by saying “Oh, there is not hope for me; I am a lost cause”. No. Conscience and self-examination (when they are used in the context of prayer) are essential tools to help us to determine where we fail, where we need to improve, and where we need to ask for forgiveness from the Lord. But these are not tools for us to use to judge ourselves, or others, worthy of eternal life. Like a compass, conscience and self-examination are excellent tools to use on the way, but on reaching the magnetic pole of existence, they would be rather useless in determining where the end of our journey lies.

So, in everything from food to salvation we must prayerfully place our complete trust in the Lord, and in his loving providence. And if we manage do this the great burden of worries about future unknown odds (odds that might never come true) will be lifted from our shoulders, freeing us to put our concerns and efforts to better use in the pursuit of God’s Kingdom, and the welfare of his Church. And this is what truly matters; that we do our best for the Lord today, without worrying what tomorrow will bring.

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