Spirituality of the Readings
First Things First
Value most what is most valuable and you will find peace.
The readings from this Sunday make that very point. They are cool and quietening, refreshing in times such as the present ones. Keep yourself calm every day, they say.
But how can they offer calm to us when so many things are wrong? Jesus’ Gospel words about peace needs some explaining.
First, he says, don’t get all upset about what you will eat or drink. Look at the birds of the air. They go where there is food and the Lord provides the kind they need. Jesus’ point: the heavenly Father feeds you too, since you are more important than birds are. Get your values straight.
Then, as to the clothes you put on, you are worth more than what you wear. Have you thought about this? Sometimes we get quite attached to how we are going to look to others. Or does shame enter in? I told a story several weeks ago about a wise man spooning food down his coat sleeve at a party. The host had demanded that the man put on good clothes, so it must have been the clothes that were invited to the party, not the guest!
As we grow older, of course, our bodies need the help of garments!—but that is not the point. Jesus is looking to something much deeper, and the theme is, value what is most valuable. You are more than how you look. God is more valuable than you. Therefore, love each in proportion to each other.
And look at the flowers of the field, he says of their beauty. They do not work or spin, but they are more impressive than even King Solomon in all his glory. Go outside, observe the natural beauty you had forgotten all about. Here is what the poet says about an ivy field: “There she basks, Purple eyes and seas of liquid leaves all day.”* Seas of liquid leaves! Can we let ourselves catch this sight, observe the delicious kindness that God shows toward growing things? If we can, we will see Jesus’ point. God finds each of us more beautiful than even the life bursting forth outdoors. Won’t God provide for us at least as much as for these transitory delicacies?
Maybe you are spending your life on what is of small value: what you will eat, what you will wear, how long you will live. These things do not last. They are too far down the scale of values.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil (Gospel).
Set your values on what is most valuable and you will find peace
If you and I are at all alike, you too have an uninvited voice inside you that says, “Oh yeah? Well prove it. Prove that God is worth more than the treasures around me.”
Ok, here is the proof, in God’s own words to each of us, from the First Reading:
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
God will never forget you. Can you let this love be the number one value in your life?
John Foley, SJ
Fr. John Foley, SJ is a composer and scholar at Saint Louis University.
**From Saint Louis University