8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
February 26, 2017
“No one can serve two masters.”
These are Jesus’ words to us. As we hear them our first thought might be that we don’t want any master. We want to be free.
What does it mean to call God our master? What does it mean to say “mammon” is our master?
As Jesus uses the word “master”, to call someone or something our “master” is to say it is what is most important to us. To make “mammon” our master is to make things like money and power the most important things to us. If we do that, then we will do anything for money and we become slaves to our love for money. What benefit is that to us?
If we make God our master, yes we need to follow his commandments but they are good for us and we maintain our freedom to choose to follow him.
Can money be useful? Of course, it is necessary to buy food, clothing, and pay the rent. These are important but they shouldn’t control our lives. That’s part of why those of us who are able need to help people who don’t have enough food, clothing, or shelter.
If they don’t have enough, then they “worry” and what good does the worry do? It cannot “add a single moment to your life span.” We need to help those in need so their worry doesn’t control their lives.
I want to take the idea of mammon as our master and take it out a little broader. Jesus asks, “Why are you anxious about clothes?” We need to have clothes to wear but how many different clothes do we really need? What type of clothes do we need versus what do we want? Sometimes we want more clothes or fancier clothes to make ourselves look special (pride, a sin) or because of “peer pressure”. Then we become slaves to our pride and/or the peer pressure and for what gain?
Again, we need to think about our genuine need for food, clothing, and shelter. For example, we need a place to live but how big or fancy? We each need to reflect on our own circumstances. For instance, for me without children it is different from for those with children at home or in college. Even if we can afford more, what effect does it have on others? If I overconsume (and I do with food anyway), what effect does that have on others? Does it drive the price up and make it even harder for the poor to have what they need?
I’m not begrudging anyone having a nice car or home. I buy a new car every few years. I hope that is not a sin but I make sure the money I spend on the car comes after my charity to others.
When we learn to limit, even let go of, our wants, we can become more able to help the less fortunate, to help those who feel forsaken and find our lives more free.
In Isaiah today we hear how Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Zion felt this way because of their defeat by Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem. Today people can feel forsaken when they do not have enough food, clothing, or shelter. God has not forsaken them. Have we?
We need to show we care. In earthly terms, it can be helping people to have enough food, clothing, and shelter but feeling forsaken is not just a matter of material need.
People are looking for something more. Whether they know it or not, it is God they seek. As our psalm says, “Only in God is my soul at rest, from him comes my salvation.”
How attentive to spiritual needs are we? The fact that we are here in church would indicate some awareness of our need but what about others’ spiritual and emotional needs?
Look around you. Do you know the people around you beyond those you came with? Do you know their aches and pains, their joys and hopes?
If you see an unfamiliar face in church, do you consider them a visitor? Do you wonder why they are sitting in your pew? Are they really a visitor or just coming to a different Mass? Either way, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to help each not just in our physical need but spiritually and emotionally. That means helping them to feel welcome and appreciated.
When someone doesn’t have enough food, clothing, or even a place to sleep, they may feel like the mountains may fall. If they feel alone and forgotten, that no one cares about them, they can feel forsaken. May our own Lenten journeys that starts Wednesday help us to put our own lives into perspective to know what is truly important, that we find “rest in God alone” and know that God never forsakes those who call on his name.