Saturday, March 01, 2014
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
March 2, 2014
8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 49:14-15 / Ps 62: 2-3, 6-7, 8-9 (6a) / 1 Cor 4: 1-5 / Mt 6: 24-34
First Reading: Is 49:14-15
But Zion said: "Yahweh has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child of her womb? Yet though she forget, I will never forget you."
Second Reading: 1 Cor 4:1-5
Let everyone then see us as the servants of Christ and stewards of the secret works of God. Being stewards, faithfulness shall be demanded of us; but I do not mind if you or any human court judges me. I do not even judge myself; my conscience indeed does not accuse me of anything, but that is not enough for me to be without reproach: the Lord is the one who judges me. Therefore, do not judge before the time, until the coming of the Lord. He will bring to light whatever was hidden in darkness and will disclose the secret intentions of the hearts. Then each one will receive praise from God.
Gospel: Mt 6:24-34
No one can serve two masters; for he will either hate one and love the other, or he will be loyal to the first and look down on the second. You cannot at the same time serve God and money. This is why I tell you not to be worried about food and drink for yourself, or about clothes for your body. Is not life more important than food and is not the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, they do not harvest and do not store food in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than birds? Can any of you add a day to your life by worrying about it? Why are you so worried about your clothes? Look at the flowers in the fields how they grow. They do not toil or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his wealth was clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass in the field which blooms today and is to be burned tomorrow in an oven, how much more will he clothe you? What little faith you have! Do not worry and say: What are we going to eat? What are we going to drink? Or: what shall we wear? The pagans busy themselves with such things; but your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on the kingdom and justice of God and all these things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
A "theme" for today's Eucharistic celebration might well be "the paradox of Christian service" with the gospel reading opening with the sharp reminder that no one can serve two masters. Where is the paradox? The normal expectation following the opening warning might be that the servants to whom these words are addressed would now be given a list of all that they should do to be good servants of the master, how they should serve their master. But what follows in our gospel reading is not what the servants should do but what the good master will do for the servants! Here the master serves the servants! The master becomes a servant! That's the paradox!
Of course Jesus has told us that it was precisely to serve that he was sent into our world by the Father. He has said the Son of Man did not come into the world to be served but to serve! (Matthew 20:28) Recall how at the Last Supper Jesus washed the feet of the disciples to give them an example that they should follow. Jesus does not deny that he is the master, but he gives an example of how a Christian master should exercise authority by giving service.
And Jesus wants us to trust that God is committed to care for us as our good master. In rather exaggerated terms the gospel verses go on to suggest that we should not be overly concerned about such things as food, drink, and clothing. The fact is that we do have to be concerned about such necessities of life. These concerns are not only for ourselves but most especially for our families, and for all who depend on us. But the point of the gospel is that our concern for these things should not be so exaggerated that they make us slaves. What Jesus is cautioning us about is that if we make them our masters we will not be free to serve others. We will be enslaved.
The "mammon" that Jesus warns us about is not only the mammon of money. Anything that becomes a master in opposition to our God is the mammon of our gospel. The master who is God is a master who serves. The master who is the Lord is the master who enables us to be free. If we make mammon our master we are not free; we are slaves.
There is no shortage of situations to which today's gospel warning cannot be applied. Civil leaders and officials have been elected or appointed to give service, but the temptation to abuse power is always present. It was many years ago that Lord Acton said "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The Church itself is not immune to the temptation to serve mammon in its very varied forms. Today's gospel is an important message for all who in one way or another exercise authority. It is a message for our institutions and also for us as followers of the Lord who is asking us to imitate him in our relations with one another. "As I have done for you, you must do for one another." To serve God as our master by selflessly serving one another is the refusal to serve any form of mammon. If mammon is our master we are slaves. If God is our master we are free - free to serve others.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
... for families who are in need of healing.
... for personal intentions
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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