Reflection: the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are we not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.]

Jesus is very clear and straight forward in today’s gospel.  He says that no one can be the slave of two masters because he either hates the first and loves the second one or the other way round.  Jesus makes use of the word ‘slave’.  The slave is the property of and belongs to only one master.  A slave cannot be shared between more masters.  If this ever happened, then one could quite easily encounter the problem that Jesus is speaking about.  Therefore the example that Jesus is using fits perfectly with the message that he wants to convey.  Jesus is trying to tell his disciples that no one can have God and something or someone else as his masters.  One has to choose.  No one can be shared with more masters.  Jesus makes use of ‘money’ as an example.  It seems that the idea that with money one can buy everything already existed at the time!  Jesus mentions money because he wants to teach his disciples how to trust in God and let themselves go into his hands.  He starts with a statement about the most important things of their worries… their life and their body.  In fact, he says that their life is worth more than all their worries, be these about life, about their clothing or about their food or their drink.

As an example of how to trust in the will of God the Father, and about the food and the drink that we need in life, Jesus speaks about the birds in the sky.  He says that the birds do not sow, they do not reap, and they do not gather into barns.  Yet, the Father in Heaven provides for them.  For Jesus, the birds do not worry about what to eat or drink… and God provides for whatever they need!  Therefore, along the same line of thought, Jesus asks if we – human beings – are not worth more than the birds in heaven?  Since the answer to this question is an obvious, unanimous ‘yes’, therefore, Jesus implicitly asks his listeners if they are trusting in the Father in the same way as the birds in heaven do.  Jesus does not wait for an answer and asks another question: “Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life?”  This question leads to another obvious unanimous answer!  But Jesus does not give time to anyone to answer because once again, without waiting, he asks: “Why worry…”

This particular question at this particular time has a specific theme: ‘clothing’.  Now, Jesus shifts his attention from the birds to the flowers growing in the fields.  He says that the flowers never have to work or spin…, yet, Solomon in all his regalia was not robed like any of them.  Again, similar to what has been said about the birds in heaven, Jesus is saying that the flowers do not worry about anything… and the Father in heaven ‘cloths’ them with the finest colours…  Jesus tells his listeners that God will look after his faithful followers in the same way as he looks after the grass in the field which purpose in life is to be thrown into the furnace one day or another.   Jesus adds to this question the title of “men of little faith” to those who are not able to do like the birds in the sky or the grass and flowers in the fields.

Jesus concludes his teaching by explicitly telling his listeners not to worry and implicitly to trust in God the Father.  He tells them not to say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?”, because they would be like those who do not believe and who set their hearts on all these things.  He also assures his disciples and listeners that the heavenly Father knows that they need these things.

Jesus then recommends them to set their hearts on God’s kingdom first, and on God’s righteousness, and all the other things needed in life will be given them as well.  He continues to tell them not to worry therefore about what will happen because things will be revealed to them when time comes.  They only have to trust in God!

“Lord, you taught your disciples to trust wholeheartedly in the Father’s will. Give us the strength to be able to do so and the wisdom to see his work in all his creatures. Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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