Monday, September 7, 2009

Blessed Be The Lord, Who Carries Us Day By Day: Ours Is A God Who Provides For Us

In today’s First Reading (Gen 1:26-2:3) we are reminded that “In the beginning”, God created animals, birds of the air, fish and other sea creatures, cattle and wild beasts on the land. But God saved the best for last! He created people – men and women – to be reflections of divinity. Unlike other creatures, we can think, and we can choose. We can know what God wants, and we can decide whether or not to obey the will of God. In a word, we have free will.

Because we human beings have intelligence and will, we are “like God”. That is why God as made us “rulers” over the rest of creation. All other living creatures, birds of the air, fish in the sea, animals on the land are there for our food, and the latter also as cattle.

Then, God gave the command that men and women should start families. Like individual human persons, but even more so, human families are “created in the image of God”. Why? Because God is not one person, but three persons, each of them having their own part in the family enterprise: the work of creation. The First Person of the Trinity is the architect and engineer, through whom all things are made. His creative will is responsible for the existence of creatures capable of understanding and making choices, which is why we call him Father. The Second Person of the Trinity is the living image of the Father, and the model for the only creatures who, like God, are capable of understanding and making choices. The Third Person of the Trinity is often characterized by scripture commentators as the “feminine” member of the Holy Trinity. That observation is called “reverse imagery”. The Holy Spirit – the Paraclete who came down from Heaven upon the apostles after Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father is the source and teacher of all virtues, both those that lead us closer to our heavenly destination, and those that guide us to avoid desires, words and actions that will take us on a path leading away from the place God has prepared for us in his kingdom.

Finally, God looked at everything that had been made, and found that it was perfect. It was precisely as they (the Trinity) had planned.

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In today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:31-34), we find ourselves in a world very different from the way it was God created it (but, recalling the First Reading, precisely as they (the Trinity) had planned it). That is a paradox we have been dealing with since the beginning of time, and when Jesus comes again in glory, we still will not have figured it out completely. The question is one every human mother and father has asked repeatedly (and human sons and daughters as often): Why did God created people who are capable of disobeying the Ten Commandments (one perspective) , of doing things that are contrary to the good of other people – and for that matter, to their own good (the other perspective)? We are never going to resolve that conundrum in this life. For today, it is best to listen to what Jesus has to say about it to his disciples.

In the preceding verses of Matthew 6, Jesus had been speaking to his disciples about the dangers of wealth and prosperity. For the most part, Jesus’ disciples are not well-to-do; in fact, they may be quite poor. He reminds them that life is more than having the basic necessities. God gave us life, and he will provide for us what we need in order to live.

He asks them to look at the birds. They do not store food for the future. They do not work to grow their food. They do not work to make clothing for themselves. But God provides for them. And we, his children, have greater worth in the Father’s eyes than do the birds.

Worry is useless. In fact, it is counterproductive. You will not increase the length of your life by worrying. In fact, that would be more likely to shorten your life.

Again, Jesus asks his disciples to look at nature. Consider the flowers in the fields. They are more beautiful than a king’s raiment. Even Solomon in all his glory was not so well arrayed. But the flowers bloom in the spring, and by the autumn, they fade and wither and die.

Someone who has confidence in God does not worry about such things, Jesus says here. In other places he reminds his disciples that the Tempter will not cease to exaggerate our legitimate concerns by various temptations. We are called to enter a more perfect world at the end of our life, but in the meantime, the Enemy will not cease trying to confuse us, to disturb us, and to make us lose hope.

If we trust the Lord our God to rule our lives, according to his will, we have no need to worry, Jesus tells us. Even the efforts of the Prince of Darkness have a positive purpose in God’s plan: to build strength and endurance by spiritually “aerobic” and “anaerobic” exercise.

Keep your perspective focused on short-term goals. That’s a “businesslike” transcription of what Jesus says in verse 34: Don’t worry about tomorrow; today has problems enough of its own. In conclusion, worry about tomorrow is futile in two senses:
a. It makes it more difficult to focus on today’s situations;
b. The things we are worried about may never happen.

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