EIGHTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR – Do not worry
INTRODUCTION AND CONFITEOR
At times we allow our problems to get us down. We fear, fret, and worry about many things, and lose sight of the one thing necessary, which is to live a life pleasing to our heavenly Father. Let us try during this Eucharist to place our lives in his hands, and to leave all other cares and worries to him. [Pause]
Lord, you said: ‘Do not worry about clothes- there’s more to life than clothes’. Christ, have mercy.
Lord, you said: ‘Do not worry about tomorrow- just live today well’. Lord, have mercy.
HEADINGS FOR READING
First reading (Isaiah 49:14-15). The message of this is short and sweet. It is that, come what may, God will never forget us.
Second reading (1Cor 4:1-5). God is the only one who can judge rightly, because he alone knows the secrets of the heart.
Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34). Christ urges us to avoid useless fretting and worrying about material things, and to place our lives in the hand of our heavenly Father, to whom we are important and precious.
Most people have lots of acquaintances put perhaps only a few close friends. There is a world of difference between acquaintances and friends. Acquaintances are people about whom you know a lot of facts – where they live, what they work at, and so on. You exchange greetings when you meet, but usually it doesn’t go beyond that. But friends are different. You know a lot of facts about them, yes, but a whole lot more as well. If you meet, you stop to chat. You share experiences. You swop secrets. Let’s take an example. Let’s look at two children and at how they relate to their respective fathers.
If you ask Mary to tell you about her Father she says: ‘He works in an office. He gets up very early. He comes home very late. He drives a car. He is very tall. He is about forty years old… ‘If you ask her does she love her father, she replies: ‘I don’t see very much of him. He’s away a lot’. And if you ask her does she trust him she replies: ‘It depends on the mood he’s in. If he’s in a good mood, yes, but if he in a bad mood, I try to avoid him’
For Mary the father is not a real father. He is only an acquaintance. She knows a lot of facts about him, but even these have to be dragged out of het. It’s obvious that she doesn’t enjoy a relationship of love and trust with him. And this colors her whole attitude and response, not just to him, but to life. She does what is right, but only to please him. She avoids what is wrong, only because she is afraid of punishment. Her life is a kind of bargaining- something given for something received. Her growth will be stunted like that of a shrub planted in a cold climate.
Now let’s take Kate. She describes her father like this: ‘ I like my Daddy very much. He makes me happy. He buys me presents, and I buy him presents. He doesn’t like it when I’m naughty. He takes me for walks in the woods. Once he saved me from running in front of a car. I’m getting a card for him for father’s day, but I’m keeping it a surprise…’
She’s bubbling over with enthusiasm, and you have to stop her. Kate is telling us that she loves her. She is talking about a relationship of love that exists between them. In a climate like this, Kate will grow like a flower in the sun.
Let us now turn to our relationship with God. We could know lots of facts about God (learned from our religion books), yet me might not have a loving relationship with him. There is a vast difference between knowing about God and knowing God. Even the devils believe in God’s existence and know certain facts about him. But they do not love him. Might be able to recite the Creed word perfect, but it doesn’t follow that we have the kind of faith in God and trust in him that Jesus speaks about in today’s Gospel. Unless we get our relationship with God right, we will get nothing about our religion right. Everything will be out of focus. Our faith will not be rooted in our hearts, and will therefore be superficial and sterile.
What was Jesus talking about? In a nutshell he was saying that the heavenly father loves us. The most wonderful thing that can happen to people, especially to those who have known loneliness and lack of love, is to discover that someone loves them and cares about what happens to them. That they matter to someone, even if only to one person, a person who accepts them and loves them as they are. This can be sheer magic. This is what Jesus is telling us.
God is not an impersonal God, remote from us and from our world. he is near us. He loves us unconditionally. We do not have to merit or deserve his love. Like the sunshine, it is a pure gift. Jesus opens for us the door to the father. He reveals to us the Good news that we are precious to our heavenly Father. Thus our anguished and restless hearts are on the road to being healed and we are gradually being transformed.
What Jesus tells us should change our whole attitude, not only to God, but to life itself. When he tells us not to worry about food, drink, and clothes, he is not condemning human resourcefulness. Of course we have to plan for tomorrow. The flowers of the field fade, and the birds of the air sometimes die of hunger. We have to be resourceful in providing for the necessities of life. They do not fall into our laps. But what Jesus telling us is to avoid kind of fretting that dehumanises us, the kind of worrying that robs us of peace of mind and prevents us from taking a longer and deeper view of life.
Our lives are gift from a loving God. The meaning of our lives is that we are on a journey to our Father’s Kingdom. That is the only thing we have to worry about. That is the only thing that really matters. We are not grains of sand or specks of Dust. We are children of our heavenly Father, and we have a splendid destiny. Sure of his love, and of our own dignity and destiny, why should we worry? It has been said that the whole of Christianity can be summed up in the concept of God as our Father, a Father who, like any father worthy of the name, rejoices in his children.
‘God loves us not because we are good, But because he is good’ ( Catherine de Hueck Doherty)
‘To really know, is to be transformed by what one knows’ (Anthony de Mello)
PRAYER OF FAITH FULL
Let us pray to God our Father for greater trust in him, and for a better insight into what is important in life. R. Father, hear our prayer.
For the pope and bishops: hat they may help the people of God to keep their hearts and minds on the Kingdom of God. [Pause] We pray to God our Father.
For all governments: that they may spare no efforts to ensure that everybody has the basics of life, and so become instruments of God’s providence. [Pause] We pray to God our Father.
For all those who are overburdened with problems and worries: that they may place themselves in the hands of God. [Pause] We pray to God our Father.
That we may not allow ourselves to get upset over material cares and worries; that our priority may be to do the will of God in our lives. [Pause] We pray to God our Father.
For local needs.
Let us pray:
God our Father, grant us in all our tasks your help, in all our doubts your guidance, in all our weaknesses your strength, and in all our sorrows your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
SIGN OF PEACE
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your disciples: ‘Do not worry about food or drink or clothes. Set your hearts on the kingdom of God, and your heavenly Father will take care of you’. Help us to live by these words, So that we may enjoy the peace and unity of your kingdom where you live for ever and ever.
I have no idea where I’m going,
I do not see the road ahead of me,
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself.
and the fact that I think I am doing your will
does not mean that I am actually doing it.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you, and I hope that I have this desire.
I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
through I know nothing about it.
Therefore I trust you always.
Through I May seem to be lost and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear, for you are with me,
and you will never leave me face my perils alone.