First Things First

This is a true story. A man dropped in to see me one day and told this story. He is in the office cleaning business. He finished one job and was on this way to another. Getting into his car in the underground parking he put the keys to the many offices he cleans on the roof of the car while looked for his car keys. He got into his car drove up from the underground parking and went to the next job which was some distance away. He drove down into the underground parking and got out of his car. There on the roof of his car were his office keys. He’d forgotten all about them and couldn’t believe they’d stayed on the roof during his many twists and turns. He told me he was greatly concerned about his young daughter and the choices she was making in her life. Being a prayerful man he immediately thanked God for caring for his keys. Then he thought to himself, if God can watch over my car keys He will watch over my daughter. This whole experience deepened his sense that God was watching over him and those he loved. This experience deepened his conviction that he was of more value than birds of the air or the lilies of the fields.

This poetic Sermon on the Mount passage evoking the birds of the air and the lilies of the field is actually a traumatic call to us to trust. It’s our lack of trust in God that causes us to worry over health or food, our past or future. The words are written easily enough and they sound beautiful but the living of them is a daunting task. It is one thing to sing of trust in God; it is another to face a CAT scan or a MRI. I wonder how a mother of four with an unemployed husband hears this gospel calling ‘not to worry.’

All life is about relationships. We are the result of a relationship and we live our lives in and out of relationships. Hopefully our relationships with others are always life giving and life enriching. When Jesus tells us to stop worrying about what we are to eat or what we are to wear or where our security lies and tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness he is calling us to a right relationship with God. He tells us if we come to that rightness everything else will fall into place. A right relationship with God comes from our right relationships with others. As often as we are there for those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and lonely or imprisoned then we are there for Christ and our relationship with him is sound.

Lent will be here before you know it and lent has always been a time for looking the healthiness of our relationships with others and with God. This Lent we will be providing you with inserts in the bulletin that are meant to help all of us heal and strengthen our relationship with the rest of God’s good creation. The health of that relationship has a great impact on all those share Earth with us. I encourage you to read these inserts as a family.

If we expect God to step in and solve the problems of poverty and injustice that plague the world today we can listen to a Sabbath prayer quoted in Rabbi Kushner’s book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People:

We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end war; for we know that You have made the world in such a way that we must find our own path to peace, within ourselves and with our neighbour. We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end starvation, for You have already given us the resources with which to feed the entire world, if only we would use them wisely. We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to root out prejudice, since You have already given us eyes with which to see the good in all people, if only we would use them rightly. We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end despair, for You have already given us the power to clear slums and to give hope, if only we would use our power justly. We cannot merely pray to You, O God, to end disease, for You have already given us great minds with which to search out cures and healing, if only we would use them constructively. Therefore we pray to You instead, O God, for strength, determination, and willpower, to do, instead of just to pray and to become instead of merely to wish.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we prayer for ourselves and for each other that as each of us seeks to know God our personal right relationship with God and with God’s good creation, we will be blessed with the strength, determination and willpower to do instead of just to pray and to become instead of merely to wish.