Monday, February 21, 2011

February 27, 2011 – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Sexagesimus Sunday)

Today is Sexagesimus Sunday.  Ash Wednesday is but a week and a half away.
“Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

Isaiah 49:14–15
I will never forget you.

Psalm 62:2–3, 6–9
R. Rest in God alone, my soul.

1 Corinthians 4:1–5
. . . . he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts . . . .

Matthew 6:24 –34
. . . .  seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness . . . .
Listen Here!    

Do Not Be Anxious (a reflection by Scott Hahn; edited, added to, bolded and graphically enhanced by Soutenus)

We are by nature prone to be anxious and troubled about many things.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus confronts us with our most common fears. We are anxious mostly about how we will meet our material needs—for food and drink; for clothing; for security for tomorrow.
Yet in seeking security and comfort, we may unwittingly be handing ourselves over to servitude to “mammon,” Jesus warns. “Mammon” is an Aramaic word that refers to money or possessions.
Jesus is not condemning wealth. Nor is he saying that we shouldn’t work to earn our daily bread or to make provisions for our future.

It is a question of priorities and goals. What are we living for? Where is God in our lives?
Jesus insists that we need only to have faith in God and to trust in his Providence.

The readings this Sunday pose a challenge to us. Do we really believe that God cares for us, that he alone can provide for all our needs?
That well-known Scripture from Matthew 6 will be read this Sunday:

Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Think about it - really ponder the beauty of those words. And what about these words from Scripture?

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

Do we believe that he loves us more than a mother loves the infant at her breast, as God himself promises in this week’s beautiful First Reading? Do we really trust that he is our rock and salvation, as we sing in the Psalm?

Jesus calls us to an intense realism about our lives. For all our worrying, none of us change the span of our days. None of us has anything that we have not received as a gift from God (see 1 Cor. 4:7).
St. Paul reminds us in the Epistle that when the Lord comes he will disclose the purposes of every heart.
We cannot serve both God and mammon. We must choose one or the other. Our faith cannot be partial. We must put our confidence in him and not be shaken by anxiety.

Let us resolve today to seek his Kingdom and his holiness before all else—confident that we are beloved sons and daughters, and that our Father in heaven will never forsake us.

Scott Hahn, Ph.D

John Michael Talbot wrote a beautiful song based on Psalm 62

Sometimes songs can help us remember Scripture!

Go right to 2:26 for the beginning of the song OR right to 3:48 for Scripture reference. One of my very favorite scenes from the movie version of Godspell . . .

Bishop Anthony B Taylor 's Homily:

Probably most of us have had at one time or another some troubling experience that forced us to open our eyes to some reality to which we previously had been blind. What went on inside you the first time you ever saw desperate poverty? I remember how I felt the first time I ever saw a filthy baby held by a toothless young mother with sunken cheeks begging for a few coins and realized that worse than her material poverty was the profound sense of abandonment — the spiritual poverty—the loneliness, fear and despair lurking behind her sad eyes.

Poverty and despair are as old as the human race but once our eyes are opened to these and other human tragedies, we have a choice. We can give away a few coins and then close our eyes to the bigger issues lurking below the surface, try to put it all out of our mind, or we can keep our eyes open and gain a new, more accurate, understanding of reality that puts everything else in a different light. That’s what Jesus is trying to accomplish in today’s Gospel.

We, like the people in Jesus’ audience, spent most of our time working to earn money to buy things. And Jesus warns us of a danger lurking below the surface of this necessary human activity: “You cannot give yourselves to God and money. I warn you, then: do not worry about your livelihood, what you are to eat or drink or use for clothing…look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap…yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?” Jesus invites us to open our eyes to see that in our blindness we often give more importance to things, than to our relationship with God. And here he is talking about food, drink and clothing! Can you imagine what he would say to those who put luxuries before their relationship with God! This is a very easy trap to fall into. The danger is that this can come to become our whole world and we begin to view all of reality as just so many goods. And sad to say, our American society has bought into this consumer mentality.” For instance:

Whenever the main reason we come to Church is to get something out of it, we’ve made religion into a commodity. We all want Mass to be a good experience, but whenever we actually feel shortchanged because the homily is mediocre or the priest has an accent or the music is disappointing, we need to ask ourselves why we came here in the first place. The main reason for coming to Church is to give rather than to get: to give ourselves to the Lord and to give him thanks for his many blessings, which is what the word Eucharist means: Thanksgiving.

Children become a commodity whenever we calculate how may we can afford to acquire and then use artificial means to prevent against excess “inventory” rather than first asking God in prayer to guide our decisions, and then using Natural Family Planning in order to work with the Lord in being wise stewards of the Gift of Life, all the while remaining open to whatever God’s will is for us. But that’s not how it is for most Americans. In American law today, the parents are consumers and the child in the womb is a commodity. The parents decide whether to keep the product or send it back (abortion), especially if quality control (amniocentesis) says there are defects. Some will sue for damages if the doctor doesn’t give them a perfect baby.

Adults in the work force become commodities: valuable so long as we are productive members of society. Our salaries tell us how much we are worth. Did you ever wonder why so many retirees die within a year of retirement? They no longer feel worth anything.

Jesus challenges this consumer mentality. He calls it idolatry. He calls it slavery. He says: “You cannot be the slave of both God and money.” None of us can be the slave of two masters: we will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. Each of us chooses the master of our life. Will we live according to the consumer mentality which promises happiness that it cannot deliver and values us only for what we produce? Or will we live according to the Christian mentality, the way of truth and life, which values us for who we really are—children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus and each other, temples of the Holy Spirit… having God-given intrinsic worth (even those people viewed by others as a burden on society!) from the first moment of conception and all 9 months in the womb, through those unproductive years of childhood and those supposedly unproductive years of old age, all the way to natural death!

Our Lady of Hope parish in Hope, AR on Saturday, February 26, 2011 and at St. Barbara Parish in DeQueen, AR and St. Edward Parish in Texarkana, AR on Sunday, February 27, 2011. 
A truly wonderful homily by Msgr. Charles Pope can be found HERE.
Msgr. Charles Pope is with the Archdiocese of Washington. The originating URL for his Homily is HERE.

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