8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (26th February)

Readings: Isaiah 49:14 – 15, Psalm 61:2 -3, 6 -9, ! 1Corinthians 4 :1 – 5, Matthew 6 :24 – 34
At first sight the Old Testament reading, the psalm and the Gospel of today are really comforting and reassuring. St Paul, in the second reading, is more challenging and ‘no-nonsense’.

God comparing his relationship with us as that of a mother and the baby at her breast must be one of the warmest and most touching of biblical images. He will never forget us.
In the Gospel Jesus tells us not to worry – about food, clothing or about our lives. Compared to the birds of the air and the flowers of the field which God provides for so tenderly, we are beyond price, so God will look after us. The psalm is equally consoling. So, do we just leave it at that, and reassure ourselves? An ‘I’m alright, Jack’ attitude? St Paul would not agree with that!

In reading the Gospel I cannot help imagining how refugees, immigrants, the poor, the starving and the gravely ill could respond. It is not tomorrow they have to worry about, but today, here and now. How can I look them in the eyes and tell them that everything will be fine? Could it be that when reading this Sunday’s Gospel we see the verses that really appeal and reassure, and skip the beginning and the end? Jesus tells us that we can’t be the slave of two masters, God and money. That we must set our hearts on the kingdom of God and its righteousness. Which master do we serve? ‘Money’ can be translated into several idols that we are unwilling to admit exist in our lives. The word ‘worry’ in the gospel can be translated as ‘pre-occupied’. What preoccupies me? What is my idol? What is keeping my heart from being set on the kingdom of God? A kingdom of justice and truth. What am I doing in the cause of justice and truth?

Trying to join the dots between faith in God’s care and love for us, the situation of those in grave want and the seeming impossibility of making any kind of effective contribution to justice and the alleviation of want reminds me of the old prayer:

I am only one,
but I am one.
I cannot do everything,
but I can do something.
What I can do, I ought to do,
what I ought to do I will do,
by the grace of God.

Sr. Lucina Montague OP

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