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Seek First the Kingdom: Reflection on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“The Lord became my protector. / He brought me out to a place of freedom; / He saved me because He delighted in me” (This Sunday’s Entrance Antiphon). These words should bring us great comfort; “He saved me because He delighted in me.” God saved you because He thinks you’re great! But we already knew that, we were told in the beginning: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

We need to be reminded sometimes. We need to be reminded that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (see Romans 5:6). He didn’t do it once we earned it (we still haven’t!) but did so when we deserved it the least so that He could become our righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, so that we would become righteous (and deserve it) through Him, with Him, and in Him. The Lord delighted in me when I saw no delight in myself.

The prophet Isaiah, in our First Reading this Sunday, recounts how Zion (Israel/Jerusalem) thought that the Lord had abandoned her because of her unfaithfulness to their covenant. Isaiah then speaks on behalf of the Lord (as a prophet does of course): “Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, / or fail to cherish the son of her womb? / Yet even if these forget, / I will never forget you.”

This sentiment from our Father in heaven is exactly what Jesus is intending to draw out in our Gospel this Sunday. What are we worrying about? “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.” Our Father in heaven will never forget us and what we need.

It is definitely the case that many of us tend to compartmentalise our “faith” from our “life.” Because of this, we tend to fall into the thought that God cares about my Mass attendance on Sundays, my prayers before bed, and whether or not I’m a “nice” person, but doesn’t really take much of an interest in my day-to-day affairs. Nothing could be farther from the truth and we have Jesus this Sunday telling us so:

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you 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.

God wants us to put Him into everything that we do. Whether it be the generous aid to those in need or the spirit-filled encouragement to our brother who is struggling with his cross or the more mundane packing of lunch-boxes, the cooking of dinner, or even the brick-by-brick construction of our city’s buildings, all of it can be made holy; all of it can be sanctified by doing it with the Lord and for the Lord. Put simply: “Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and on His righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.” How else can we achieve St Paul’s exhortation to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? We make our lives a constant prayer.

St Paul reminds us in our Second Reading also that when the Lord comes, the purposes of our hearts shall be revealed plainly. We cannot serve two masters. Let us serve the Lord only and we shall have everything and lack for nothing! It’s a great deal and the only one that will truly bring us peace, joy, and happiness!

Let us renew our commitment, once we are done reading, to seek the Lord's Kingdom before all else. When you feel tempted to pursue the lusts of this world, however small they may be, repeat the words of this Sunday’s Psalm silently to yourself with great love and affection for our heavenly Father: “In God alone is my soul at rest.”

Let us pray also to our Mother and the Mother of the Lord, Mary most holy, that she will pray for us and separate you and I from whatever separates us from her Son.

Sancta Maria Auxilium Christianorum, Ora Pro Nobis! (Holy Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for Us!)

See you next week on Seeking the Word!

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