“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.” Jesus, in today’s Gospel Matthew 6:25-34.
“…We never curse the air when it is warm
Or the fruit when it tastes so good…
We bless things even in our pain.” From ‘An African elegy’ by Ben Okri.
Today’s reading has an irony about it in light of the terrible devastation caused by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, where at least 28,000 people have died and many thousands are injured and homeless. Aid has been slow to arrive in some instances due to accessibility and the political situation but there have nevertheless been some astonishing survivals too. However, 113 arrest warrants have already been issued for those who constructed buildings without observing the safety regulations and a long time of uncertainty lies ahead for those who have lost their families, homes and communities. Telling people not to worry in the face of so much loss and destruction could have a hollow ring – but Jesus is referring to a way of life he outlines in this part of the Sermon on the Mount.
His words may seem out of step today when we are constantly bombarded by adverts enticing us to buy more than we perhaps want or need, at a time when Brexit, Covid 19, the economic situation and the war in Ukraine have understandably made so many people anxious and fearful about what lies ahead. But, in the face of adversity, the challenge is to try to find blessing within it all as Ben Okri suggests. Emergency aid won’t make up for the loss of a home, but a tent will at least provide some shelter meanwhile, just as food banks and community kitchens may enable those who are struggling to provide food for their children as the cost of living continues to rise in the UK. It’s a reminder, too, that we live in community that has broader horizons than just our own needs or hopes so that caring for others as well as ourselves becomes part of a way or life. It’s not just a case of loving our neighbour but giving the practical support that our neighbour might need or welcome, with the values of the kingdom of heaven becoming part of daily life today. Putting that first before material wealth and possessions enables a wider vision for the creation entrusted to us as stewards of it and, as Jesus says, “Do not worry about tomorrow….. Today’s trouble is enough.”
This Creation Sunday is a good time to take stock of these things as preparations begin for Lent later this month. Just as Jesus refers to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, so the snowdrops that have been called nature’s candles are appearing and bringing their silent but clear hope today of better things to come in Spring. A friend of mine mentioned her disappointment when, going to the church grounds where snowdrops had been planted in previous years, there was no sign of any although they had already appeared in other places. She thought that perhaps something had eaten or destroyed them but, returning later in the week, a spell of sunshine had brought them out and there they were! In a shaded place, more time was needed and, in the varying situations we are currently facing, each of us will need to trust that what we have planted and grown practically and spiritually in our lives will blossom when the time is right. If we allow it to, that can enable hope to overcome worry as trust begins to play a greater part in battling fear so that we can celebrate the gift of today, whatever it holds.
With my prayers; pob bendith,