Even hunter-gatherers were not radical enough for Jesus

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel for February 26, 2017

By Glen Argan

If there is one reading in the Bible that shoots an arrow through the heart of our accumulative, frenzied, technological, top-down society, it is Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 6.24-34).

I have to admit that every time I read or hear this reading about the lilies of the field that neither toil nor spin, I think of the 1960s black-and-white film, The Lilies of the Field, starring Sidney Pothier. Some associations you cannot drive out of your mind.

Still, Jesus’ message – “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear” – points to a radically different way of life. I was recently liberated from decades of employment and am entering a period some refer to as retirement – too passive a term for my liking – and am wondering if my RRSPs will hold up until the endgame.

“Worry” is too strong a word for my financial security concerns, but the concerns are there.

“Are you not of more value than they?” Jesus asks, referring to the birds of the air. Rhetorical question.

It is the Gentiles, the blasted Gentiles (that is, us), who fret about food, clothing and the stock market.

On one level, Jesus seems to be advocating a hunter-gatherer society. The only place you find those societies these days is among indigenous peoples in remote locations. “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.” The hunter-gatherers can do that, but the rest of us need to psych ourselves up daily to maintain our standard of living.

Yet, even the hunter-gatherers in our northern climes had to be savvy enough to have sufficient food and warm enough clothing to get themselves through brutal winters. So, Jesus is advocating a way of life even more radical than that of the hunter-gatherers.

This, of course, is craziness. Where would we be without central heating? How often would we go hungry if no one thought about what will be on the plate for supper tomorrow?

But Jesus says God’s kingdom is the only thing that matters. The only thing. “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

You can have only one master. Let that master be God. Step out of your comfort zone, and focus on fulfilling God’s righteousness. All the other stuff is crap. Really! You’ll get it if you need it.

[Other readings: Isaiah 49.14-15; Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 4.1-5]

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