Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalm 62:2-3, 6-9; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

First Reading: This text from Isaiah is a brief but significant conversation between Israel and God. Zion is understood to be the whole people, though in fact it was the mount on which the Temple was constructed. The cry of the people comes from a feeling of being abandoned by God. The response of God is quite remarkable.

Psalm 62: Psalm 62, which is sometimes attributed to David when he was lost in the desert, proclaims immense trust in God, even in the midst of distress.

Second Reading: Today’s second reading has Paul finishing his discussion of different evangelists, particularly himself and Apollos. He insists that they, and every Christian, should be known for nothing other than being servants of Christ, a term which literally means assistants of Christ. He reiterates that idea, saying they are stewards of God’s mysteries, members of God’s household called to preach the message of the Cross.

Gospel: Jesus teaches the importance of two virtues for discipleship. The first is loyalty to God; the second is trust in God.

Reflection: We tend to worry about immediate things that affect our daily living, like food and shelter, job security and paying bills. We usually don’t worry about ultimate things. Our shortsightedness can leave us quite impoverished. Jesus challenges us to a longer view: “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” With that priority, our wealth is assured, but it is not a wealth measured by goats or other possessions. The wealth God offers is that God is ever faithful and will never forsake us, that we are always embraced by God’s tender love. God is committed to loving us no matter what!

In today’s Gospel passage from the Sermon on the Mount Jesus uses two seemingly incongruous images of God: a master and a father. In order to understand the first, we should be aware that in Jesus’ day, masters generally treated household slaves well and saw that they were educated. They were considered real members of the household and often enjoyed a better status than people hired for temporary work. Their lives had little in common with the lives of those forced into slavery in more modern times. In biblical times, slaves frequently exercised significant authority over the organization of the life of the household. It was occasionally known that one person could be slave to two masters, but, because a slave was supposed to have absolute and total devotion to the master, such an arrangement was untenable. When Jesus refers to God as a master, he is making a point about the disciples’ dedication: it involves a unique type of belonging and must be a commitment without rival. Have you made that commitment?

Our own commitments and priorities are revealed to us in many ways. We need only look at our possessions, preoccupations, what drives us, what motivates us. When we become caught up in serving our social status or image, our acquisition of things, our professional success, even our own self-righteousness, we afflict ourselves with the anxieties such priorities always engender. When we choose to serve God – make God the center of our lives – we enter a realm of internal freedom and wealth beyond calculation.

Today’s gospel invites us to turn our attention to what truly matters – the life only God can give. What is Jesus telling us must be our first concern in life? While being attentive to having food and clothing, etc., that is normal and necessary, our priority must be what God offers and only God can give: eternal care, eternal life.

Question for Reflection: Have I made a commitment to God through my discipleship, leaving all material preoccupations behind?

Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.

Year A

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