SEEK FIRST YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER’S KINGDOM AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE GIVEN YOU BESIDES. Each of us has daily reminders of the fragility of our human situation in this world. Most of the occasions for such thoughts are readily ignored and quickly pass out of our consciousness. Potential dangers to our well being for healthy and reasonably balanced people seem distant enough that they do not occupy our attention if we advert to them at all. Take for instance the experience that each of us has in driving or crossing the street. Every passing car is a potential threat to life. If the driver is inattentive, under the influence of drugs, or momentarily inattentive because talking on a cell phone— as seems to have resulted in the death of four teen-age girls not far from our monastery recently—the vehicle could suddenly become a threat to life. The newspapers tell every day of accidents, fires, or natural disasters that come unexpectedly. This state of affairs has been essentially the same throughout recorded history; only the outward circumstances change. We must provide for our future as well as assure our present health and welfare. How much human energy, planning and attention we give to such provision. How readily such concerns come to dominate our concerns.
In today’s Gospel the Lord Jesus tells us to keep perspective, not to allow concern for such matters as are essential for our welfare to dominate our minds and displace the one truly reliable source of safety and happiness, God our heavenly Father. Trust in God is the effective response of faith that our Creator is indeed a Father who possesses boundless resources and employs them to assure our true fulfillment and happiness. The very person of Jesus is an assurance that God is concerned for us because he loves us, desires our well being, and seeks our love. Saint John made matters clear early on in his Gospel account of our Lord’s teaching by commenting that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not be condemned but might have eternal life” (3:16).
Recognizing that a Father’s love is ultimately operative in all the vicissitudes of life is challenging even when we are healthy, successful in our undertakings, accepted and appreciated by our neighbors, and feel secure in our circumstances and prospects for the future. For we easily become complacent, taking such blessings for granted without any insistent urgings that we stand in utter dependence on God’s care for the continuance of our peaceful state. We must make decided efforts to remain aware of our weakness and need, of our tendency to selfishness and proneness to float with the current of life’s stream wherever it flows; only by steady application to God’s presence with the desire to shape our actions and thoughts by our Lord’s example and teachings, can we avoid the deadly complacency that separates us from the reality of the Father’s loving Providence. As challenging as such attentiveness and ready responsiveness to God is in times of peace and prosperity, faith that his love is no less operative in times of stress, suffering, and humiliation often turns out to be even more demanding of our deliberate choice to trust. Providence works to purify us in view of union with God, and this process of purification regularly entails passing through suffering under one form or another. A Father’s love is not only protective, but also chastising in view of our learning the discipline needed to love faithfully in return.
Jesus in these words invites us to put our trust in the Father in good times and in painful periods as well. He urges us in today’s Gospel to deepen and strengthen our faith and our trust that God who is all-powerful is also all-wise and reliable in his love for us. “Cast your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you” (1 P 5:7), Saint Peter writes, having learned by his experience that such trusting faith is the only attitude that preserves us as faithful children of our Father in heaven. As a pledge of his love and to encourage us in such trust he gives us the body and blood of Jesus in this Eucharist. As we enter into communion with his risen Son may we confidently place our trust and our hope in him who loves us._
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger