Monday, February 28, 2011

What are your priorities?

My Dear Friends in Christ

Grace and Peace to you in God, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with the ministerial association of Britt. During part of that time, we talked about how we handled Last Sunday’s ice storm. We all hate to cancel church on Sunday and, believe it or not, none of us cancelled them in Britt. Unfortunately, Fr. Hertges and I felt we had to cancel the late masses in Garner and Forest City because the weather had just got to the point where no one should have been out. One of the pastors commented that he had a much smaller congregation than normal and was surprised to see that some of the people who felt it was far too treacherous to go to church on Sunday were willing to travel all the way over to Mason City the next day to the West Hancock girl’s basketball game. He said that the weather was worse on Monday, having snowed all day on top of the ice that we got on Sunday.

In today’s gospel, Jesus exhorts us to not worry about our life. He asks us why we worry so much about the clothes we wear or the food we eat. In some ways, it’s hard for us to truly appreciate what Jesus is saying considering how available food and clothes are for us nowadays. We have refrigerators and freezers to store food and grocery stores to readily supply us with food. It would have been a bit different in a completely agrarian society where you would be expected to grow your own food and store enough to last through the winter. And we have department stores where we can go to buy clothes. Imagine if you would have had to shear the sheep to make wool which eventually would become clothing for you. I imagine that a lot of time each day would have gone towards figuring out how much food you can eat today and have for tomorrow and whether pieces of clothing needed to be patched or thrown away and replaced. Paying attention to clothes and food would have been the mark of adulthood, in some way. And Jesus is trying to get across to his listeners that one shouldn’t be so preoccupied by taking care of the basic necessities of life that we forget the one who supplies those necessities in the first place. He says, “…seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow with take care of itself.”

What are the activities that you wake up and think about first in the day? If you’re in debt, it might be how you’re going to get out. If you’re sick, it might be how you’re going to be healthy. It could be that game on Facebook that you play. It might be making sure that you set your DVR correctly to record your favorite television show. Whatever it is that keeps you awake at night with worry or makes you wake up in the middle of the night, let us once again listen to the words of Jesus, “Can any of you by worrying add a single minute to your life-span?”

We are just a short week and a half away from Lent; the time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. As Catholics, we are trained to ask each other what we are giving up. This year, our readings challenge us to take to hear the real reason for the season. As we look at those things that add worries and stress to our lives, is there some way that we can fast from the worry and stress and replace it with prayer and charitable acts? How can we stop worrying so much about food, clothes, and money and use that energy to draw closer to God?