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Sunday:       Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time
Date:         February 27, 2011
Year:         A
The readings: [Is. 49:14-15; 1 Cor. 4:1-5; Mt. 6:24-34]
The message:  Do not worry about tomorrow.
Prepared by:  CATHOLIC DOORS MINISTRY
Total words:  1620

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** The readings follow the sermon.

My friends, children of the Lord God, do not worry about tomorrow! [Pause].

During today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah, we heard, "Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.' Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." [Is. 49:14-15] I emphasize these words, "I will not forget you" says the Lord God.

Here perhaps is the most touching expression of Divine love in the entire Bible. In God's few words, we learn of His Fatherhood. We have a heavenly Father. Not only is He our Creator, but He also wants to be our Father. While we struggle here on earth, awaiting the day when we will be united with the Heavenly Father, we are told in different words that God is watching over us. He has not forgotten us. If we think that He has forgotten us, it is all in our minds.

The second Reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians [1 Cor. 4:1-5] concerns the ministry of the Apostles. We heard the reader say, "Brothers and sisters: "Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy."

Two important words are found in this passage. They are the words "servants" and "stewards." In those days, the usage of these words implied an “assistant", a "helper.” This is the servant who was entrusted with the administration of the house. Paul places emphasis on the inferior position of the “manager” who administers his master’s property, and not his own.

The apostles of Christ’s are His assistants and “managers” of God’s mysteries, charged with preaching Divine revelation, and not their own doctrines. The first and indispensable quality demanded of a manager is trustworthiness, a conscientious devotion to his master’s interests.

Paul continued... “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.”

When Paul made reference to being judged by a human court, he was referring to any human judgment and criticism. The faithful have no right to pass judgment on the Lord’s manager. Only the Lord, not even the Apostles, can judge the faithfulness of his ministry. The Lord will make known His judgment when His presence is made known upon His return on the last day (parousia).

This Bible passage may explain why in the past, so many clergy members have remained silent regarding the sinful behaviour of a small number of priests who caused scandal in the Church. For decades, it was taught that no one should speak about the sinful behaviour of a fellow priest. God alone is the judge.

While some may have embraced that belief, it opposed other teachings that are found in the Holy Bible where it says, "If another disciple sins, you must rebuke the offender, and if there is repentance, you must forgive." [Luke 17:3] In similar words, we find in the Gospel of Matthew the following words, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." [Mt. 18:15-17]

Furthermore, the Church teaches that if one remains silent regarding the sinful behaviour of another person, because of his silence, such a person is just as guilty of the sin as the one who committed it.

From these aforementioned passages, no matter our status, clergy member, religious or layperson, let us remember our obligation as Christians to rebuke those who sin. And let us not forget that in some country, criminal behaviours must be reported to the law.

The remaining of today's Gospel Reading [Mt. 6:24-34] has to do with serving two masters.

Speaking to His disciples, Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Disciples, followers of Christ, cannot have a divided loyalty.

In this reading, Jesus reminds the disciples that it is not good to possess wealth and ownership. Material possessions are a false god that demands exclusive loyalty, as God demands it. The claims of material possession must be completely renounced.

Jesus proceeds by saying, "Do not worry." "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?”

The meaning of the words "Do not worry" as spoken here mean not to be "overly concerned." Do not be "uneasy about what might happen." Avoid "anxious care." It may be worth noting that the word means more than simple thought or planning. Jesus refers to the kind of worry that leads to a divided loyalty and ultimately as an exclusive concentration on possession. He speaks of the basic need of food and clothing - the person is more important and deserves more attention than the external goods that sustain him.

If one places his trust in Divine Providence, he has no worries. But if he does not trust in God to provide for his future, then he begins to stockpile anything and everything which he believes will benefit him in the future. Such is a false sense of security. It is not the spiritual way to do things.

Jesus continued, “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 a single hour to your span of life?”

The example of the birds is proposed as the proper attitude that we should have towards food. This does not excuse one from earning his food; few men, work as hard for their living as the average sparrow. The audience to which these sayings were addressed was largely composed of peasants and laborers. And Jesus says nothing here or elsewhere that invites them to abandon their life of incessant grinding toil. It is not laziness that He is recommending. What He is recommending is that one’s anxiety should not exceed the labor that is required to secure subsistence. It is not the use of the necessities of life that is discouraged, but the accumulation of goods. Accumulation of goods does not prolong the life of the owner as much as a cubit (18-20 inches).

Continuing with the words of Jesus, “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?”

To teach the proper attitude that one should have towards clothing, Jesus alludes to the wild flowers, which bloom in profusion on Palestinian hills. These hills are a dull brown color most of the year. The example illustrates the observation of nature and the details of daily life that are typical of the Gospels. Yet this display of bright color, which is indeed an impressive sight, lasts only for a few weeks.

The raiments of Solomon, the proverbial example of wealth in the Bible, did not effectively endure much longer. To make the provision of food and clothing one’s major concern, an object of anxiety, is to live like the pagans who know no dedication except to the accumulation of the goods of this world. The disciples have a prior dedication, the reign of God. If the disciples seek this, God will provide the necessities of life to those who work for them.

This condemnation of one's accumulation of clothing can be compared to those who today, they have a large collection of shoes, dresses, suits, hats, coats, etc... [Pause]

Why does one need so much? [Pause]

Changing the subject, Jesus said, “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. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."

This verse emphasizes more clearly the principle that the disciples should not be accumulating goods. If savings becomes “accumulation,” it is still subject to the words of Jesus in the previous passages. “Sufficient for the day” are the key words to remember.

The pursuit of wealth has its ups and downs. Many of us try to keep up with the cultural expectations that come from success, security and the fulfillment that is found by pursuing wealth. Other try to keep up with family expectations or feel a need to compete against one or more persons to prove himself/herself more worthy or to receive public recognition. Doesn't the saying go, "The rich are famous." That is until they are broke... and then their friends disappear!

Today, Jesus reminds us who follow Him that we are more important than flowers, than the grass, than swallows. His promise to us is that He will take care of us even more than He does of the plants and birds.

This teaching of Jesus reminds us that we are called to a distinct way of life, not a worldly way but a spiritual way. We are called to trust in God who knows what we need and to believe that God will give it to us. Blessed is he who places his trust in the Lord Jesus!

This week my brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray for each other, that we may receive the gift of faith that is necessary to trust in Divine Providence so we may not worry about tomorrow.


The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
First Reading...

"Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.' Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you." [Is. 49:14-15]


Second Reading...

Brothers and sisters: "Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God." [1 Cor. 4:1-5]


Gospel Reading...

Jesus taught his disciples, saying, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and 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 a single hour to your span of life?

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.

"So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today." [Mt. 6:24-34]





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