The message from today’s readings is that God loves us and wants to take care of our every need. Therefore, Jesus is calling us to live for God, to trust his love and put him first. It is a call to be like Jesus himself who completely trusted his Father. Being a Christian is not just being saved by Christ, but it is being like Christ, living like him, talking like him, acting like him. In short, it is being perfect! But not like the perfect supermodels or actors in the movies. How did Jesus live a life of perfection? - Like the lilies of the field and the birds in the air. He completely believed that if God took care of plants and animals that he would take care of his every need and never forgets him. He did not allow worry about material things: clothes, food, money, enter into him. He didn’t work overtime and neglect his friends or family or forget to keep holy the Sabbath so that he could gain money to get the buy the latest trends. He knew that when he gave to God first, everything else would be provided for. Do we trust that God our Father will provide our every need?

Now, this dependence on God did not mean Jesus waited around and did nothing. We know Christ did work, he most likely washed his own clothes, purchased some new sandals when his wore out. He just did not have a closet full of them. And so he doesn’t want us to be preoccupied with things and the need for money to get them. He tells us to learn from nature. I invite you to take a walk today. Look at the birds. Look at the daffodils that are blooming. What can we learn from them? We know the birds spend a lot of time looking for food. We know lilies have to get rid of their old leaves before they get a fresh set of petals each year. So dependence on God doesn’t mean laziness or lack of responsibility. But bird’s aren’t’ anxious about anything, they sing. Daffodils look the same each year but are always beautiful. So if we have food, shelter and basic clothes, we shouldn’t lose sleep over other things. The world says to be happy you have to have the best food and eat at the best restaurants; you have to change your appearance and have the latest fashions, and you have to have a big house. Jesus says, “No you don’t.” The truth is, we really don’t need much, but we want a whole lot. We want perfect happiness, comfort, and peace in this life. But that’s not going to happen. Yet many seek it, and so form a love of money, clothes, food, different relationships, in order fill the desires of our heart. But only God can give us what our soul desires.

That is why today’s Psalm says: “Only in God is my soul at rest; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.”

But the honest Christian looks at this call to perfect trust in God and humbly says, “I’m not there yet.” And that is the best answer you can give. Indeed, this is what we need to come to realize: We need to admit that we trust more in the comfort of things and less in God. We love money, food, clothes, things, importance, relationships, whatever, and believe that they can make us happy. And they do to a degree. But we depend on them to fulfill us, to save us being left out from all the things that everyone else has, to comfort us from the sadness that comes with the difficulties of life. Yet we are left feeling anxious. So the Psalm is helping realize that only God can save us from that anxiety that is ever lasting. And more, only he can give us Heaven. And so we can begin to trust more in the words of Jesus who says we can’t love God and Mammon. The word Mammon means the god of Money. Look at our society. What buildings are bigger, churches or banks? What do we invest more in? Jesus is trying to tell us that life is too precious and too short to invest in salvation that comes through a bank account or security that comes from money. He wants us to invest in grace.

Grace comes from Heaven and we can only get it when we become poor. Jesus said “Blessed are the poor in spirit for their’s in the Kingdom of Heaven.” If we are making ourselves rich with the things of the world then we will be satisfied only with what they give us. But if we recognize that our souls need something much more, then we recognize our poverty of spirit, then we begin to invest more of our time with God who offers us a heavenly inheritance. In this life we are going to be servants of one or the other: Happiness through things or happiness from grace. One is temporary, the other is everlasting. We have to choose one or the other. Again we cannot serve both God and Mammon. And this is true whether you are rich or poor. It’s a tough choice but possible, as the saints show us. Tomorrow is the feast day of one of our American saints, St. Katherine Drexel. She was a multi-millionaire but understood that she was poor in spirit and needed to serve God first because only God’s grace could give her true happiness. Instead of buying a nice big house for herself and big cars and luxuries with her earthly inheritance, as many wealthy people do, she spent it on the poor, founding hospitals, orphanages, and schools, including Xavier University in New Orleans. And now she enjoys her heavenly inheritance.

Therefore, the difference between the true Christian and the one who serves two masters is the willingness to sacrifice the things of the world for the things of God: Sacrifice our personal beliefs if they are contrary to the commands of God, sacrifice our personal time and even money to be committed to Mass every Sunday, Sacrifice our pride to go to confession, Sacrifice our independence in order to get married in the Church, Sacrifice not just our luxuries but even our necessities in order to help the poor. Then as true Christians we face our anxieties not with hours of despair but in hours in prayer, just as Jesus did who believed that no matter how hard it was, how bad things got, that his Heavenly Father would never forget him. All things we accumulate add to our anxiety. Jesus said anxiety about things in this world cannot add one day to our lives. In fact, doctors say anxiety will take away days from our lives. When we are anxious, we are trusting more in things and less in God. Therefore, as Christians, anxiety becomes an invitation to trust in our Heavenly Father, to pray to him, to allow him to provide for all our needs this day and let tomorrow’s worries come tomorrow.

And so it is good that we have the season of Lent that will begin this Wednesday when we will put on ashes to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that God formed us from dust and despite all our worries, anxieties and occupations with life and the things of life, it will not be that long before we will return to dust and our life is judged, not by anyone or anything in this world, but judged by the Lord. So we should be more worried about pleasing Him, right? And so Lent is a special season to unite with all other Christians throughout the world who struggle to be like Christ and, as one body, as one Church, support one another to grow in Christian perfection. Lent helps us to purify our lives with prayer, fasting, and giving alms to the needy so that we become poor in spirit and rich in grace. Grace only comes from God who loves us so much that he cares for us like a mother who protects and nourishes the life of the little baby in her womb, as Isaiah the Prophet said, and once born, she clothes, feeds and provides for his every need. So, brothers and sisters, let us remember that we are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father and allow him to provide us with what we truly need. No matter how difficult life gets, God will never abandon us! So let us not worry about tomorrow “But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things, [all that you need, that you want, that you truly desire], will be given to you besides.” Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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