3rd Sunday after Pentecost, June 5, 2016. Rom 5:1-10; Mt 6:22-34

In a few minutes we will sing, “…now set aside all earthly cares.” In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us not to worry about what we are to eat, drink or wear because the pagans seek all of these things. Nevertheless, at every Liturgy we have several litanies in which we ask God for various intentions and we have other prayers that do the same.

Jesus also tells us that our heavenly Father knows that we need these things and wants to provide us with what we need. This all might seem a bit confusing. Let’s sort it out.

Yes, God certainly does know what we need. He also knows what we want. Don’t confuse the two. We often want things that we don’t need or even that may be harmful to us, even if we don’t see it that way. The reason that we pray for God to do something or other for us is because it opens us up to receive the good things God wants to provide for us. God won’t force even his gifts upon us. We have to let him know we are ready and willing to receive them. God respects our free will.

What about the setting aside all earthly cares when we are constantly praying for things that affect our lives here on earth? Going back to what Jesus said in today’s Gospel passage, we are not to be anxious about these things. There’s a big difference between praying for something, trusting in God’s providential care, and being anxious over our basic needs. It’s the anxiety part against which Jesus warns us. He doesn’t forbid us to pray for our many and various intentions, just that when we do it should be with trust and confidence in God’s providential care.

This doesn’t mean that we should not work for our food, clothing and shelter. What it does mean is that our attitude to these things should not be the worry of the worldly-minded. In addition, our attitude toward our possessions should be that everything we have is a gift freely given to us by God. These things, certainly, are to be used for our own good. However, we also have an obligation to those less fortunate than we. God calls us to help him provide for others by using our resources to help them. It’s often the case that others don’t receive the help from God for which they pray because the people God calls to share with others don’t respond, but greedily hold onto their possessions.

We Christians, then, are to have a distinctive way of living in regard to earthly cares. Jesus tells us that we are to focus on spiritual treasures rather than earthly ones. We are to look at the world with the good eye filled with a supernatural vision characterized by the virtues, rather than having bad eyes that are greedy for worldly gain.

St. Paul, in today’s passage from his letter to the Romans, assures us that we have access to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. God’s love is poured out into our hearts. This may be the most difficult thing for us to understand and accept fully – that God loves us beyond measure, beyond anything we could expect. It is because of that great love that God wants to provide us with the things we need and withhold from us the things that would ultimately be harmful to us. That is why, in the anaphora, we thank God for “all that we know and all that we don’t know; for the manifest and the hidden benefits bestowed on us.”

God’s ultimate aim for us is to liberate us from the pre-Christian self that St. Paul describes elsewhere in his letter to the Romans. Realizing God’s great love for us is the basis for our Christian hope – a hope that fills us with expectation and anticipation for the ultimate gift of our total commitment, in the Holy Spirit, to carrying out God’s will for us and for our world.

This week, how will you act so as to serve God’s will and not money?


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