SUNDAY REFLECTION FOR 8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A WITH FR. ANACLETUS OGBUNKWU

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GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU: WHY WORRY!

I wish you can beat your chest right there, mention your name and say ‘YES! GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN ME! Imagine the confidence of an infant before the mother, imagine how much loved he feels even when the contrary is the case! Imagine how secure he feels! Seeing the large crowd that is gathered here, one is tempted to say ‘God cannot identify nor remember me in this crowd. ‘Wow! I don’t have food today; God has forgotten me’! Wait a moment and think of those who have no mouth to eat. Oh! I can’t have a good clothe; God has forgotten me! Remember some others have got no legs to wear neither trousers nor hands for the shirt. In all these; morning comes and evening comes for all and life goes on and on. God has not forgotten you; why worry! Why ‘torment yourself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts’ yet like infants we are under the canopy of God who guards us like a nursing mother!

Reflect on the first reading today, from the Prophet Isaiah, God Himself is telling us through the Prophet: ‘I will never forget you! Always I am thinking of you. Always I am loving you’. Isaiah told the people of Israel, who were in exile and were crying out in despair that God had forsaken them, that God loved them tremendously, always cared for them and never forgot them – “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” This is a very touching expression of Divine love expressed in human experience. We see God under the tender image of a mother, and the people of God under the image of a nursing infant. He pays attention to each one of us individually and personally.

Worry has never solved any problem and indeed cannot. It is rather counterproductive. Thus Jesus asks in the gospel, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to his/her span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). The answer, of course, is no. Rather, worry can lead to a nervous breakdown that only pays by reducing ones’ life span. Hence Jesus invites us to overcome worry by living in the present moment, focusing on what we need to do today, knowing that we can figure out how to cross tomorrow’s bridge when we get there. “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Matthew 6:34).

One of the greatest objects of worry and mind boggle is materialism. Jesus dissuades us today that all transitory things fade and die away. Seeking after power, wealth, drink and clothes will never last. Thus Jesus says: ‘God will provide’. He asks us to look to natural creatures and see if God doesn’t take care of all their needs. And if God takes care of the needs of creatures like little birds, how much more will God take care of the needs of the created humans whom He loved so dearly. Jesus desires we set our priorities right. “No one can be the slave of two masters” (Mt 6:24).  Jesus invites us to sort out our value system: “Set your hearts on his kingdom first” (Mt 6:33); “That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Undoubtedly life is more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Mt 6:25). Let our purpose in life be determined by the values of the Kingdom!  “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

Is Jesus actually trying to dissuade us from struggles in life? Is he indeed encouraging lethargy or sloth? Does he desire we develop into physical, emotional or spiritual apathy or inactivity. Remember in the parable of talents (Mt 25:14-29), Jesus condemns lethargy and sloth. In creation, God has made us co-creators and the divine injunction to subdue the earth (Gen.1.28). The birds of the air’ do not just sit idle and wait for the Creator to bring them food.  They rather engage in some activity such as flying around to harvest and get access to the food that the Creator provides for them.

A big question comes, how would God give you all other things as he promises today when you set your priority on heavenly things? Is this just romantic pondering while thousands actually do go hungry around the world today? Does God still send manna today? Yes and No become our answer! As members of Christ’s body, we continue the work of the Lord. We are Jesus’ hands here on earth. We feed the poor, give drink to the thirsty and clothe the naked. That is why it is so important that as a community, as the Body of Christ, we continue to do the work of God who is within us through our Eucharist.

Let us therefore put ourselves in God’s hands and trusting in his loving divine providence. Let us bring all our worries and concerns, difficulties and problems, pains and sufferings, weaknesses and failures to God and offer them to him. It is he, who knows our minds and hearts, our needs and necessities – he will never disappoint us and will always do what is the best for each one of us. “Blessed is he who places his trust in the loving providence of God.” Be worried and anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Remember the Lord has promised an open door for you which no man can shut it!(Rev. 3:8).

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