Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
It’s a fact. TV advertisers “know their stuff.” That is, they know their audience very well when they devise their campaigns. In a culture like ours, fraught with problems that often lead to violence with little provocation, such as “road rage,” these creative people deliver a variety of ways to avoid anxiety. From financial security and life insurance for the future, all the way to present needs like headache relief and riddance of bad breath and body odor, there they are, ready as ever with solutions.
Anxiety is a by-product of worry, and worry springs from doubt. Doubt that we will have what we need when the time comes to face one or another of life’s contingencies. We fear for our health, happiness, and maybe for our very lives. Sometimes we can, as a result, even doubt God’s existence.
Then, along comes Jesus. Here we find Him addressing an audience of followers who happen to be prosperous Galileans. He urges them not to make idols out of their needs, letting them become obstacles to friendship with God.
How does He persuade them? By telling them first of all that God is a loving Father, not an aloof or capricious tyrant, like the pagan gods. He is more than capable of tender love as expressed today in the Reading from Isaiah.
Centuries after those days, we with our long Christian heritage, know that Jesus went much further in offering proof of God’s love by His offering of Himself on the cross for our salvation, dying with not even the dignity of His simple clothing. The precious gift of His Body and Blood given to us as His Church makes His love even more unique.
Doubt about these truths in Scripture and others too, is not sinful in itself. In fact, doubt points to your intelligence, pondering these truths for greater understanding of them. We have to restrain our doubt by energizing our faith by study and trust. And prayer to the Holy Spirit.
In the meantime, we can guard ourselves against the danger of our prosperity. After all, we do live in the world’s richest country. And even if few of us live in a mansion or a penthouse tower, we have to face danger. Most of it springs from the very prosperity we think of only as a good. An unknown commentator has written: “The danger is simple: prosperity binds us to the world. It leads us to think that we have found our place in the world. Of course, the reality is that the world has found its place in us.” All the more reason to follow a practice of a friend of mine, who mutes the sound when they come on. Or you could head to the kitchen for a snack of something you first heard about on a TV commercial.
First Reading: Isaiah 49:14-15
Here we have one of the most touching lines in all of Sacred Scripture. It is a beautiful expression of divine love.
Second Reading: I Corinthians 4:1-5
Paul openly states how the Corinthians should view their pastors. They are “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”
Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus teaches that we cannot serve God with a divided heart. Then, in a series of thoughts about basic human needs, He urges His listeners not to be “anxious” about them. God knows our needs and will always provide for them