Is it wrong to eat, drink and clothe ourselves too much?

by May Tam
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 49:14-15

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

Matthew 6:24-34

The examples that Jesus used in today's Gospel reading remind us of what we often overlook, that nature manifests God's wonderful work and its orderly continuation displays His divine providence (rf Is 45:18). All too easily we let ourselves fall into the illusion that we are the master of the world, that by technology and wealth, we are even capable of sustaining ourselves in existence!

On the other hand, we may mistakenly read into today's message that it calls for a kind of lax or “do nothing” attitude in life. In saying “tomorrow will take care of itself” (NAB), Jesus certainly did not mean to downplay the importance of hard work or human foresight and prudence. What He wanted to point out is that undue anxieties, worries and preoccupations with material necessities are unnecessary if not useless in this life. These inordinate attachments and concerns will only weigh us down and enslave us. When Jesus invited us to look to the birds and the lilies, He did not mean to encourage us to imitate their idleness. It is rather their complete reliance on God that Jesus relished. The birds do not sow, reap or gather into barns and the lilies do not toil or spin. They are contented with the natural endowment that comes from God. The birds soar with the wind that God provides beneath their wings. The lilies grow splendidly despite their evanescence and the threat of weather. Their “work” is to allow themselves to be part of God's work.

It may seem a bit far fetched when Jesus asked us to seek God's kingdom first. In our mundane world, to eat, drink, and clothe ourselves are, after all, elemental and essential needs. But what Jesus means is we should move away from extraneous concerns over human needs and move towards our spiritual needs, that of adoration and filial trust in God the Father. Hence, a perfect orientation of a Christian life is to cope with those problems in daily life which we can handle and leave those beyond our control in God's hands. Since God is all knowing and all loving, He sees beyond our stray desires and our superfluous needs and will provide us with what He knows best for us. When we take our attention away from those distractions and let the concern of the coming kingdom be truly at our hearts, it is then that we begin to experience what it means by “all these things shall be given you besides”.