CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on June 22, 2013

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or 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 in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Jesus speaks today about trust. A persistent temptation in the world has been to trust in money, power, and prestige. Today’s gospel is evidence that it was a phenomenon in Jesus’ time as much as it is one in our time.

We are funny creatures with odd priorities. We spend years worrying about how to acquire money, power, and prestige, often ignoring our health, spirituality, and relationships, and then when we wind up wrecked in some way, through sickness, despair, or isolation. We turn then to the money, power, and prestige we’ve acquired to fix the problems we created by ignoring our health, spirituality, and relationships in the first place. This is the practical effect of Jesus’ warning it is impossible to serve God and mammon.

Then there is the problem of living in the moment, a spiritual axiom which attends all the great spiritual traditions. All traditions agree that the secret to holiness is attention to the present moment: paying attention to what God has placed in front of us right here, right now. If we live our lives with our minds forever on some future moment, we perpetually ignore the present one. And when the future we have attended to arrives, it doesn’t matter, because we’re not present to it. Our minds at that moment are on the horizon. So we reach the end of our lives without ever really having lived.

Jesus calls us to trust God’s providence. God is right here. God is present to you in this moment. God does not forget you. God is often (but not always) slow, but God never fails. The gospel passage we read today asks us to dare to trust that God really is real and really does take care of us from moment to moment, if only we will have the eyes to see. So do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

Saint of the day: Today’s saints are among the first martyrs of the English Reformation in the 16th century. They were different in background and temperament but united in choosing God’s values over worldly temptations.

John Fisher came from humble circumstances, but was naturally gifted. He rose steadily to become chancellor of the University of Cambridge, a post he held until his death. He was also named Bishop of Rochester by King Henry VIII, a post he accepted with reluctance because he was uncomfortable with power.

When the new theories of Luther swept Europe and England, Fisher preached vigorously against them in the churches and the university. He wrote four volumes of refutations against the German monk, and even influenced the king, who wrote a small treatise in defense of the faith. However Fisher’s friendship with King Henry foundered on the issue of the king’s marriage. The king wanted it dissolved. Bishop John upheld the sanctity of marriage and the supremacy of the Pope and contested the king’s views in Parliament and in the university. The king had him imprisoned and later put to death.

Thomas More was a lawyer by training and a scholar by temperament. His rise to public life was rapid: first as under-sheriff of London, then as a member of the king’s privy council, and finally at the age of 50, as Lord Chancellor of England.

Thomas was an accomplished writer. His book Utopia, on an imaginary country where everything works well, made him the friend of many learned people, among whom was the scholar Erasmus who called him, “a man for all seasons.” The king, Henry VIII, was a personal friend.

Nevertheless this personal friendship dissolved into hostility when the king could not get what he wished: an annulment from the Pope from his marriage, in order to marry the younger woman his heart desired. Henry declared himself head of the Church in England and demanded that all loyal subjects take an oath of allegiance to him. Thomas refused, was imprisoned, and later executed.

Both John Fisher and Thomas More were among the highest placed in the land. Yet on a matter of principle, they chose their conscience over the demands of their sovereign. Their example encourages us to choose God’s ways even at the cost of life itself.

Spiritual reading: David wasn’t thinking of being king when he was tending sheep; he was just doing what God sat before him. (John Fisher)

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