Feb. 26, 2017: 8th Sunday Ordinary A
I venture to say that there is one thing that most of do quite well--that is, to worry. Whether it’s about our health, wealth, safety, security, responsibilities, or the future, we know how to worry. What is at the very heart of our worry? It’s trust, isn’t it? We worry about our lives ultimately because we do not really trust God. This is the point that Jesus makes in the Sermon on the Mount in today’s gospel.
Jesus teaches how the disciple should approach material possessions and the basic necessities of life. Those who seek first the kingdom have a peaceful confidence in the Father to provide for their lives. They serve God alone, not wealth or possession, and are full of light, storing up treasures in heaven. Those who do not make the kingdom their top priority are like the pagans, who do not know the Father’s love and so are anxious about their lives. Seeking security in wealth prevents them from serving God single-heartedly. They store up treasures on earth and thus do not radiate Christ’s heavenly light, for “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”
Jesus ultimately asks each of us, “Where is your heart?” The heart is the center of one’s life, from which one’s attentions and commitments flow. So how would you respond to that question? In a dialogue God had with St. Catherine of Siena, He said to her: “Why do you not put your trust in me your Creator? Because your trust is in yourselves. Am I not faithful and loyal to you? Of course I am. . . . But it seems they do not believe that I am powerful enough to help them, … or rich enough to enrich them, or beautiful enough to give them beauty, or that I have food to feed them or garments to re-clothe them. Their actions show me that they do not believe it.”
So that’s where our heart is -- lacking in trust. And yet, each of us desire to trust God more. How can we cultivate that trust? One of the ways is to practice prayer of surrender. A short prayer by St. Ignatius Loyola is an example: “Lord, everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me.”
This prayer involves the ongoing practice of opening our hands to God and releasing ourselves and others to him in a way that permits grace to move. It includes developing the habit of giving up our attempts to control people and events by intentionally giving them to God. And it encompasses yielding our will to God’s providential will through faith, inviting him to empower us to see our lives through his transcendent perspective instead of through the lens of our own limited human understanding. Learning the prayer of surrender is not a one-time effort. It takes much practice, perseverance, and patience, plus the example of those who have lived it extraordinarily well.
The Church in Her wisdom gives us the season of Lent so that we may ponder the deep love the Lord has for us. During Lent we have the opportunity to grow in holiness. The more we turn to the prayer of surrender and eliminate activities and distractions of our life, we will grow in our trust in Him who gives His whole Self to us.