The Bishops Homily – 8th Sunday Ordinary Time

8th Sunday Ordinary Time
Is. 49:14-15
1 Cor. 4: 1-5
Mt. 6: 24-34

INTRODUCTION: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is the fundamental ethical Code of Christianity. It contains Jesus’ best known exhortations. Here is one about worrying. This reminds me of Ralph Phelps’ story about the clock that had a nervous breakdown and was brought to a psychiatrist. This story, like today’s Gospel, teaches us three things:

(1) WHY PEOPLE WORRY: We worry when in our minds we try to bite more than we can chew. The clock is bothered about how many ticks it will make in one year if it ticks twice in every second, rather than focusing on the ticking it needs today, this very minute. Similarly, Jesus teaches us not to worry about so many things: “What will we eat? Or what will we drink?” (Mt. 6:31) We handle too many things in our minds about the future, about the tomorrows of life that are so uncertain.

(2) THE FUTILITY OF WORRY: In both stories of Phelps and of Jesus, worry does not solve problems. It is even counterproductive. Jesus asks: “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” (Mt. 6:27) The answer, of course, is no! Rather, worry can lead to a nervous breakdown as the clock experienced and this can diminish a person’s life span.

(3) HOW TO OVERCOME WORRY: We overcome worry by living in the present moment, focusing on what is needed to be done today, knowing that we cross tomorrow’s bridge when we get there. The poor clock regained its sanity only by learning to focus on what needs to be done in the present moment. Jesus, similarly, teaches us to focus on the present and not on the future: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for the day is its own evils (trouble)” (Mt. 6:34)

Q and A: Is Jesus teaching us to live life without plans and not to make provisions for the rainy days? No! Rather he teaches a basic truth: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain; unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain” (Ps. 127:1). This means our plans for our life, security and welfare for the future begins with our total submission to God. If God cares and provides for lower creatures like the grass of the field (Mt. 6:30) and the birds of the air (Mt. 6:26), how much more will he care for us who are made in His own image and likeness, if we only let him? “Are you not more important than they? (Mt. 6:26) Will he not provide much more for you?” (Mt. 6:30)

CONCLUSION: Jesus, therefore, teaches us to replace our many mundane concerns with just one over-riding concern: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all those things will be given you besides.” (Mt. 6:33) God who gave us life knows that life needs to be sustained and God who gave us bodies knows the body needs to be clothed and fed. The best way to assure that the gifts will keep coming is to develop a good relationship with the giver. This is the only sure prescription to overcome worry in our lives.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches