Jakarta, 27 February 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
JESUS TELLS US TO SEEK HIS FATHER’S KINGSHIP OVER US
(A biblical refection on THE 8th ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR A], 26 February 2017)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:24-34
First Reading: Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalms: Psalm 62:2-3,6-9; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Scripture Text
“No one can serve two masters; 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.
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Salomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things shall be yours as well.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day. (Matthew 6:24-34 RSV)
A king demands total and undivided loyalty from his subjects who pledge their allegiance to him and promise to serve him all their lives. In turn, the king protects and takes care of them, showing special concern for the poor, the homeless, and the needy.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us to seek the Father’s kingship over us and assures us the Father will take care of us if we acknowledge Him as our Lord and King, giving Him our undivided loyalty and trust. As proof, Jesus points to the loving care the Father bestows on the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. If God takes such great care of His less significant creations, we can trust He will give us all we really need.
The Church has taken today’s Gospel reading and those of the last few Sundays from the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7 of Matthew). In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus delivers this same sermon no on a mountain but on a flat stretch of land, leading biblical scholars to wonder if the mountain in Matthew has any special significance.
Most of the early Christians were originally Jewish and one of the biggest events in the history of the Jewish people was Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Jewish laws on top of Mount Sinai. The Jews treasured these laws as the way to holiness, a blueprint explaining how a person could have a close relationship with God.
Matthew’s symbolism was clear to the early Jewish Christians. Just as Moses ascended to the top of Mount Sinai to get the laws from God, Jesus ascends to the top of a mountain and gives the people a new law, a new way to holiness, making Jesus a new Moses. Just as Moses was the mediator between God and the Jewish people, Jesus is the mediator between God and all people. Just as Moses showed the Jews the way to the earthly Promised Land, Jesus shows us the way to the heavenly Promised Land. Moses was the most important figure in Jewish history and Jesus is the most important figure in the history of the world. The early Jewish Christians recognized all these similarities and more.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I lay every concern before You and seek Your blessing on me and everyone I meet. Lead me in the footsteps of Your beloved Son, the New Moses, Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit continue to draw me further away from sin, and grant me Your peace. Amen.
Jakarta, 24 February 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
Polycarp was a disciple of the apostles and bishop of Smyrna, as well as a friend of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. He went to Rome to confer with pope Saint Anicetus about the celebration of Easter. He suffered martyrdom about the year 155 by being burnt to death in the city stadium.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Lord of all creation, You gave Saint Polycarp a place in the company of the martyrs. Grant that