Why do we worry? To answer this question we should go back to our first reading. The prophet Isaiah expresses how the people of Zion are feeling, “The LORD has forsaken me; my LORD has forgotten me!” It is important for us to remember that the Israelite people feel forgotten because of what has happened to them. They have been kicked out of the promised land by the Babylonians, many loved ones were killed in the process, and now life was not flourishing for them as it was before. So, they question God. Where are you? Why didn’t you protect us? Why didn’t you prevent these evils from happening to us!?
I think all of us can relate to the Israelites. When we experience suffering, evil, or any kind of bad news in our lives, we commonly respond, but God where were you!? These experiences of suffering in our lives can lead us to believe that we are alone. As a result we begin to believe “I alone will provide for my needs, and that I can trust myself only.” Our worries can lead us to become totally and completely self-reliant.
How can this worry that dominates the hearts of many Christians lead to self-reliance today? It is normal for us to worry about the future, our job, our finances, our families, or our reputation. To have a concern for these human matters is important, but we can become preoccupied with them in a way that is unhealthy for our spiritual lives. How can this be? Surely it is important for one to have a job and earn money so as to provide for themselves and others. But the temptation can be to let this desire of being “comfortable” and “secure” become the main focus of our lives. This can be the case in such a way that the only thing that matters are the earthly goods we need so that we can take care of ourselves. In other words, we lose the need for one another, and more alarming, we lose our need for God and our trust in God.
This type of self-reliance, or trust in oneself, as a response to our worrying is what Jesus is speaking to us about today. Jesus says that we cannot serve both God and mammon. What he means is this: if we allow ourselves to be weighed down by worry, and to solely trust in our selves, we begin to pursue only earthly goods. This is what it means to serve mammon. The problem is that we forget about the highest good. Our pursuit of earthly wealth and comfort can lead us to neglect our “wholehearted service and love for God.”
The question for all of us to reflect on this weekend is where do we place our trust? Do we place our trust in our Heavenly Father or do we place our trust in our selves by becoming totally self-reliant. Jesus calls us to remember that those “who seek first the kingdom have a peaceful confidence in the Father to provide for their lives.” This is the hope offered to all of us this weekend.
If we doubt this hope let us go back to our first reading where we heard about how the Israelites had lost their trust in God. The prophet Isaiah compares God’s fidelity and love for each of us using the image of a Mother and the tender care she has for her child. “Can a mother forget her infant?”, he says. We would consider it alarming if a mother forgot her child. The same is true for us with God! And then Isaiah beautifully reaffirms God’s fidelity and love for us, “Even should the mother forget, [God] will never forget you!”
My friends, if we find ourselves worrying may we turn to the Heavenly Father for confidence. He is our source of great peace and joy. God is the one who liberates us from the worry that might plague our lives. Our lives will never be completely free from worry. But, I encourage all of us here to reflect on those worries we carry in our lives and to hand them over to God in prayer. Let God know what we are worried about, and we will hear these reassuring words from him, “I will never forget you, and I am with you.” May this Eucharist we receive today be a reminder of God’s covenant fidelity to us: like a good mother, he never forgets us and always provides for us the tender love that we need.