Homily for 27 February 2011 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49:14-15; I Corinthians 4:1-5; Psalm 62; Matthew 6:24-34

When I first read this morning’s lessons, I was struck by one phrase in particular, St. Paul saying, “I do not even pass judgment on myself.” This really hit me, I’d never really thought about it before, I get it about not judging others, but not even ourselves? St. Paul goes on to say, “That does not mean that I am declaring myself innocent. The Lord is the one to judge me, so stop passing judgment before the time of his return. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts.” Only God can see the whole picture, only God has the perspective and wisdom, as well as love and mercy, to judge rightly, we don’t – especially ourselves. We are more apt to think either too well or too poorly of ourselves, sometimes at the same time, it is an unusual person who can see themselves clearly. What we are to do is live a recollected and examined life, when we recognize error we are to repent and amend our life – but not judge. We are not to say to ourselves, “Boy, was that stupid, you are such a loser, you can never do anything right!” Because we cannot see, as God can, the whole of our life, and where each act fits in its tapestry. What we may think of as a bone-headed mistake, may become an opportunity for transformation, for grace, for true metanoia. What we think of as a great success, may be the first step on a downward spiral of self-indulgence and rebellion against God. The point is, we can’t know – so we can’t judge.

We must trust God, we must trust what God says in Isaiah, “I will never forget you.” In his judgment God will be as tender as a mother, we can trust that God’s judgment is what is best for us, not fair in the world’s estimation, remember the late worker’s in the vineyard, but best, most merciful, most loving, most conducive to our salvation.

In our Gospel lesson from St. Matthew Our Lord says, “No one can serve two masters. You will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other.” He was talking about God and money, or mammon “riches”, which has a broader meaning than just money, but I think it can be applied to the relationship between ourselves and God. We cannot serve ourselves and God, we cannot say to God, “You are my master” and then seek to maintain our own mastery of our life. We worry and we fret and we scheme and we plan, we stress and we sweat and we hoard. Where in all this is God? We are to be good stewards of whatever we have, and thoughtful planning is sometimes necessary, but only in the context of a life lived, consciously, in God’s loving providence. If we are not willing to let go, and trust God with our lives, our money, our health, our day to day needs, then we are serving ourselves, not God. We are keeping one foot out the door, just in case. Just in case what? We don’t like what God is doing in our lives, so we might need to step in and take over? Really!? In that case we are judging God, and I don’t think that is a place we want to be. If we can trust God with our eternal destiny, then we can trust God with today, and tomorrow. We can trust God with this hour, this minute.

This doesn’t mean that we are to sit paralyzed until we get a bolt from the blue telling us what to do; what it means is that all we do, all we plan, all we work for, is to be done prayerfully, mindfully, carefully, aware of God’s caring presence, and if we make a mistake, we repent, amend, give thanksgiving and praise, and try again. And don’t judge – there is no perfect way to live our life, not in the sense of making no mistakes, but, as I said last week, we can be perfected by living in Christ, in love.

Christ said, “Which of you by worrying can add a moment to your lifespan?” In reality, the stress of worrying is more likely to cost us a few moments of our life, than add them. Why do we do it, how can we stop? Our Lord gives us the answer, “Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. Seek first his kingship over you, his way of holiness, and all these things will be given you besides.” That’s pretty clear – it’s not even complicated. Hard to do, but simple. Make God the focus of our life, and let everything else fall as it may, it’s in God’s hands. It sounds risky, it sounds a bit scary, but it also sounds exciting, adventurous – and immensely freeing. Can we do it? I don’t think we can afford not to, if we want to live our Christian life fully and unreservedly.

So, just let go, and let God.

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