Trust in God…put your worries in the worry box!
One of the biggest Industries not only here in Australia, but throughout the world, is Advertising! There is only one Television station here in Australia which does not advertise products, all of the others do! I find it very irritating when I am watching a good Movie on Free to Air Television and it is punctuated frequently by a string of Adverts’. But, I must confess, that some Adverts catch my eye, and of course that is the point of it all…….deep down, and even closer to the surface in our lives, we can easily get enticed by something to buy which is knew and attractive and has that ‘Wow’ factor which is the catch! We seem to be affirmed by the purchasing of ‘things’…..in the light of the Gospel, that does not mean that we are living life to the fullest!
Let’s dig a little deeper into this whole concept of desiring more in our life….especially ‘things’! It seems that within our human nature there is an innate desire to accumulate more possessions, clothes, electrical audio visual equipment, cars, home pools and houses. The advertising Industry by its very nature, plays on all our desires, so that it triggers a ‘thrilling prospect’ of a purchase, and it makes money. The Industry knows full well, that our purchase of a new curved screen Television set will be superseded in a couple of years by another development in the product, and we will want it as well; and so the endless cycle continues. Where does the excitement in all of this lie? It seems that the deepest excitement is in the prospect of buying this or that before we get it! Then if it is a brand new 4 X wheel drive SUV, after a week or so, we probably get attracted to newer models on the market. In all of this, the satisfaction factor is finite! Well, what feeling or possession has an infinite satisfaction ingredient? The answer is found in the first Reading from The Prophet Isaiah today……Chapter 49:14-15.
Today, in the evergreen Word of God, the Prophet is assuring the Jewish exiles, who have become discouraged, that God’s concern for them is more certain than a mother’s love for her children. Now, that is a real ‘Wow’ factor! We all deeply desire and need to know and have expressed to us that we are not forgotten! Just recently in Sydney, there was a heart breaking story on the News about a man who had been dead in his house for three months! What a dreadful story! Even though the man’s letter box at the front gate had been overflowing with envelopes with windows in them……the very ones that I hate receiving! Bills and more Bills. But, there were no letters or post cards, just Bills and advertising information about having one’s house rid of insect pests, and endless advertising pamphlets from local Real Estate Agents suggesting that they would love to sell your House, and that they know many people who would like to buy it! This poor man, was unknown, except to the Gas, Electricity Companies and the Local Government Council.
Fortunately, many good people rallied around and attended this man’s funeral, so that in his farewell, he was not alone.
Our God in Jesus affirms us that we too are never forgotten. In verse 16 of Chapter 49 of Isaiah, which is not part of today’s first reading, we read…..’See, I have branded you on the palms of my hand’ says the Lord.’ This verse deliberately enforces the fact that our name, our very personal identity is deeply imprinted on God’s hands; it cannot be erased! Let’s not overlook the fact that it says in the scriptures in the Jerusalem Bible Version…..I have branded….in the JPS Tanakh version from Hebrew into English it says, I have engraved you…. Let’s be curious now…..what has been branded or engraved? Our names? It seems not; our very personhood in etched into the hands of the Lord God. In the Hebrew understanding, if it is our name; the thinking or the saying of the name, makes present that person through the power on the word! As I look back to when I was at school, and that is really Old Testament times now, I don’t think that I was ever called by my Christian name……it was always:- Walshie, or a mate of mine was called Gibbsie. I didn’t mind it at the time, because I knew no better, except at home, where my name was certainly the real me! However inflections on how my Mum and Dad said it to me, told me pretty quickly if I was in trouble, or not…..I was a really a good boy at home, eh eh eh.
Now, let’s get back to the Scriptures. In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, as he and his community put together this version of the Good News, they see Jesus as the new Moses, proclaiming the new law built on the old law, and taking it a giant step forward by saying that the new law is a law deeply imbedded within our heart along with an undivided allegiance to Jesus, because we are Salt, and we are Light. This section of today’s Gospel speaks directly to our hearts…..We can’t be Salt and Light, if we serve God and possessions, at the same time and are thus possessed by them. If we give ourselves wholeheartedly to God, an essential bi product of that response, is the futility of worrying about this or that, because Divine Wisdom or more correctly, Holy Wisdom is at work in us all the time. Our duty is to listen to Holy Wisdom, and leave the rest to God! Now, that is a big Wow factor!!!! Let’s be clear about what kind of worry, are we talking about. It seems that ‘loving worry’ is good; we lovingly worry about someone close to us going for a medical check-up about some lump that they found on their body; or we lovingly worry for some family members who are caring for their Mother or Father or both in their declining years. It seems to me that this kind of worry is also a ‘prayer’. But if our worry stems from the point of our desire to be in control, and to control, to possess others, and not let them be free…..that kind of worry is sick, it is wrong and it is evil!
So in all, we are totally known by God, our personhood can never be erased; we are never lost in the crowd, when it comes to our God. The beautiful ‘Text message’ in the form of the RESPONSE to the Psalm today is a wonderful community response to the First Reading…..Rest in God alone, my soul. Then as the great Bishop of Hippo, Augustine is alleged to have said….’My heart will never be at rest, until in rests in God.’
Finally, there is only one way to serve God, and that is in God alone; nothing else. Today, as we approach Lent it is a good start to check out where our service lies………is it in the new SUV, or the new home which will tie us up in a mortgage for 80 years? Or is living life about something else…….living life to the fullest in every way…….a total surrender to Jesus in all things. It is a big ask, but the returns are infinite. Food for Thought!
Fr Kevin Walsh
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