My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Before I make a few reflections on today’s readings I want to share with you that I got a blessing this past week to go to Rome. I was there for the meeting of the Pontifical Council for Latin America. It was a good meeting and a time of grace. And I was praying for all you and our great Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
And this past Tuesday I had the opportunity for a few minutes, few seconds, to talk to our Holy Father Pope Francis. And I told him that we love him and that we’re praying for him. He was very grateful for that and he sent his apostolic blessing to you and your families. And he also asked me to ask you to continue praying for him.
So this morning I bring you a special greeting from Holy Father Pope Francis to all of you and to the whole Archdiocese and that special request that he is asking for our prayers once again. I obviously said to him that he is invited to come to Los Angeles and he just looked at me and smiled. So I don’t know what that means but let’s continue to pray for him.
And I guess this week as I was coming back I realized that we had a big rainstorm so we give thanks to God, I guess our prayers are working. But maybe it was too much for just two days. So we need a more stable and nice rain. So let’s keep praying for rain and especially praying for all those who are suffering as a consequence of the rainstorm this weekend.
So the Gospel reading this morning is another beautiful passage from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount. And Jesus is giving us a very clear and challenging message.
As we just heard, Jesus is telling us today — Do not worry about your life.
He’s saying that we shouldn’t be worried about anything. Not how we will eat, or what we will wear, or how we will take care of ourselves. In all the ordinary things of life — Jesus is telling us trust in God. To put our lives in God’s hands.
We also heard that same lesson in the first reading for today’s Mass.
We heard the prophet Isaiah telling us that God cares for each of us with a tender love. The prophet tells us that God will never forget us, that God will never leave us alone.
And my brothers and sisters, this is the beautiful reality of our lives — that we are God’s children and that he loves us like a tender Father.
But what does that mean for our daily lives? What does Jesus mean when he tells us that we have nothing to worry about?
Of course, Jesus is not telling us to be passive. He’s not saying that we shouldn’t be working or planning for the future. He knows — that we all need to make a living, that we all need resources to live.
Jesus wants us to be active and engaged. He gives each of us responsibilities in this world — to take care of our families, to make life better for other people, to work for justice in our society.
So what he’s telling us in our Gospel today — is that we need to have the right priorities. We cannot just be living for material things. Those things are important because we need them to live, but we need to put “first things first.” And Jesus is telling us that God — and God’s will — should always be the “first thing” in our life. That’s challenging.
But my brothers and sisters, when we put God first, everything else falls into place. Jesus gives us those beautiful words of comfort today in our Gospel:
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all …
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you.
Beautiful words that call us to faith. They call us to trust in God and to trust in the mission that God gives to each one of us.
Jesus today is talking about our priorities and our mission as his disciples. And our mission is this — to help him build the Kingdom of God; to seek God’s righteousness, his justice and holiness.
In our second reading for today’s Mass, we heard St. Paul say that we need to think of ourselves as servants of Christ. And he says that we need to be trustworthy servants.
That’s the way we need to live. As children of God and servants of Christ. People who know that God has entrusted us with a mission. To seek his Kingdom in everything we do, trusting that God in his Providence will give us every good thing if we love him and serve him. It is, indeed, a beautiful message that we need to reflect on.
So this week, let’s try to have more trust in God, and let’s try to put more joy in our daily activities. With the understanding that we trust God. He will give us everything we need. Try to have that simple and challenging a priority in our live — the love of God. And then as a consequence of that, trying to really serve others.
As we all know, this is the last Sunday before Lent. This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. So it’s a good time to think about our priorities. About our journey with Jesus, our journey of daily conversion — trying to grow every day a little more in our likeness to Jesus and in our trust in God.
So let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother to pray for us — that this Lent will be for all of us a season of grace and conversion. That we may all grow in the joy of living as God wants us to live.
1. Readings (Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A): Isa. 49:14-15; Ps. 62:2-3, 6-9; 1 Cor. 4:1-5; Matt. 6:24-34.