This Gospel reading is a continuation of the teaching Jesus did on the Sermon on The Mount. He has just assured us of God’s love and that everyone, no matter how lowly or sinful, is welcome in the Kingdom of God. Jesus takes his disciples up into the mountains to continue his teachings and lessons in discipleship. He began talking about things we encounter every day in our lives: anger, love, greed, money. . . and worry.
We worry about everything. . . absolutely everything! We worry about:
- Whether people like us
- What we are going to do in the future, whether it is tomorrow or next month
- If we are attractive; if we are thin enough
- How high is our cholesterol
- If we have enough money or food or clothing or long-term healthcare
- What is going to happen in the war, the economy, the election
- If our jobs are secure, if we have enough money saved for retirement
- If our children will be all right; if we have enough money for their education.
- If our marriage is good or if we are ever going to get married
- If we will be able to care for our parents.
We are essentially ‘worry warts’. We worry about things that are happening and then worry that something might happen to worry about. We categorize our worries into big worries and little worries. These worries make us anxious and agitated, create chaos in our minds and souls, and create distractions from living fully each day. Forget the ‘so-called terrorists;’ we need to win the war on worrying. Jesus enumerates at least five reasons why we should not worry:
- First, Jesus urges us not to be anxious about our lives. We are told not to be so concerned about what we eat, what we drink or what we wear. Food brings us pleasure in its taste and provides us the nourishment four our bodies. Clothing shields us from the elements and quite possibly makes us look nice and, frankly, we hoped to get noticed by others. But if we worry about these material things and the many ‘status symbols’ of our culture, we are very likely to lose sight of the wonder and beauty of life. We get so hung up in the physical that we are likely forget the eternal. Eternal is what Jesus showed us life is all about.
Secondly, Jesus told us not worry who will take care of us. Jesus cites the birds of the field that somehow survive by God’s bounty even though they appear not to work. In fact, they seem downright lazy, but they are still fed. They can find bugs, seeds and worms to eat; God sends rain for water and provides lots of twigs for nests. They even know when to head south for the winter. They do not worry about tomorrow; they know that God will provide.
We are reminded of the oft quoted verse:
- “Consider the lilies of the field who neither toil nor spin”.(Matthew 6:28)
The love and care God has for these beautiful flowers witnesses to us that God also cares for us in the same way. A field may be full of beautiful flowers today but dies in the fall. Think about the message to us that not only does God love us, but has given us eternal life through Jesus.
What a marvelous blessing and gift!
Thirdly, — does worry add even a second to our lives? NO! In fact, it probably decreases our lifespan.
If we believe in God’s message spoken through Jesus, in our continuous worry we are almost certain to miss the magic of the moment – the beauty and wonder of nature, the laughter of a child, the warm touch of a friend, the joy of being needed and loved each moment of each day!
Moreover, we forget this moment is all we have for sure – and that in God’s time, this life is but the blink of an eye and we are likely to forget the eternal life Jesus has promised us.
Worry only makes us miserable as we deal with the complexities of everyday life. Nervous breakdowns, heart attacks, migraine headaches, diverticulitis all come from stress and worry, – and it NEVER makes any difference! We waste time and energy on things that we cannot change – what if we used that energy to follow the teachings of Jesus. To make each day, each moment better for someone else, for someone we love, for coworkers, for strangers – to simply live in the moment.
Fourthly – Jesus assures us that God knows what we need and will provide it. Worry about things of the world implies that we don’t think God knows our needs. Worry suggests that we are too close to the material things and have abandoned the eternal – the things of God. We have to remember that the world does not offer eternal ‘things’, but if “we seek first his kingdom and righteousness, all things will be ours”. Jesus tells us that we can to trust God; no matter how scared or lonely we feel, Jesus calls us to trust in God because He will never let us down. If God hears the smallest sparrow fall, and clothes the flowers in robes more splendid than anything Solomon wore, does he not care as much for us and our well-being?
So then, Jesus teaches us not to worry, that God will take care of us, and that worry is a waste of precious time and energy. Jesus teaches us that instead of worrying, we are to first seek the Kingdom of God so that we can lead lives filled with goodness and peace. No matter who disappoints us, or betrays us, or wounds us, God is there and will always be there.
Jesse Milan, the featured speaker at the recent Diocesan Mission Convocation two weeks ago sang this song, which he heard in orphanages in Africa full of children whose parents had died of AIDS:
- “Your father might abandon you,
Your mother might betray you,
Your brother could disappoint you, but Jesus never fails.”
Jesus didn’t fail his followers, and he will not fail us today . . . . tomorrow . . . . or ever!
To quote Bobby Ferren:
- Don’t Worry! Be Happy!!!! We have the love of Jesus and the caring of God.
Delivered At Church of The Good Shepherd, Athens, OH 25 May 2008