Well we will miss out on the seventh (the closing one) Chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. Next Sunday is the first of the Lenten Sundays. However,

THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 6: 24 – 34] takes us to the end of Chapter Six and includes the teaching on what should be our basic approach to the living of our daily lives“do not be anxious about your life ….. is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”

It is, indeed, well worth to recall the closing words of last week’s reflection, and remind ourselves that we really should know clearly (and keep in the forefront of our minds) that the primary focus of our endeavours is to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” The warning against anxiousnessstill has deep resonance in our contemporary world.

Here I am suddenly reminded of a brief but penetrating comment by a famous 16th Century French Philosopher of the Renaissance. He said:

“I know well what I am fleeing from not what I am in search of.” (Michel de Montaigne) It is relatively easy for us to know what we are fleeing from but Christian disciples must always know clearly for what we are searching. However,to fully know where we are going we must be just as certain of where we are coming from. This fact is highlighted for us in TODAY’S PSALM [62 or 61]. “In God alone be at rest, my soul, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock, my salvation, my fortress, never shall I falter.”

The moment we forget or ignore our roots as Christian believers we introduce a serious dichotomy

into our lives. Recall the Lord’s words to Martha who was (no

doubt with the very best of intentions) running around like the proverbial flea –

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret over many things but only few are needed.” {see LUKE 10: 41} I do prefer the translation of this text which uses the word needed. A good and challenging question for me, now and at this stage of my life, is simple: what do I really needNEED, not WANT!? The moment I start thinking that the things I want (would like and enjoy) are the things I need then I enter the areas of discontent, anxiousness, envy and covetousness. “Do not be anxious about your life” today’s Gospel extract tells us.

The Lord asks a challenging question of us in this reading. “Which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?” It is valuable for each one of us to answer this question for themselves. Not only must we all learn to see the troubles of today’s Gospel in perspective but we also need to link all of it to something else Jesus questioned – “O you of little faith?” Do I firmly and unshakenly believe that my “heavenly Father knows that you need them all …. and these things shall be yours as well?” Am I too inclined to “gather things into barns?”

“I know well what I am fleeing from not what I am in search of.”

However, if we really try to honestly reflect on all that has been raised so far it should be recognised that everything boils down to the challenge expressed by Jesus in the opening words of this Gospel reading: “no one can serve two maters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the

one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Any disregard of this counsel results in us ignoring one of the basics already mentioned – to fully know where we are going we must be just as certain of where we are coming from.

THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 49: 14 – 15]

offers some vital encouragement and reassurance. In the Gospel Jesus has told us that the Father knows what we need and he will provide the basic necessities – “your heavenly Father knows that you need them all … they shall be yours.” Now, when we start to feel forsaken and forgotten by the Lord, the Father speaks to us from the prophet Isaiah: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

In all our lives there is a need to regularly remind ourselves of the closing words of our Psalm: “trust him at all times … pour out your hearts before him.” Of course there does exist the Christian obligation of taking wise care of our material possessions. In addition there is nothing wrong with ambition or financial security – as long as these do not become an anxious occupation or obsession. However which ‘master’ do we end up serving? Saint Paul,

IN OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [1 CORINTHIANS 4: 1 – 5] reminds us that “this is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” The bottom line is always “yet I will not forget you.”

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