September 20, 2020 A+D
St. Matthew 6: 24-34
NO SERMON AUDIO
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
All of us, from infancy, have been and remain concerned for ourselves and our lives. We avoid pain. We seek pleasure. We plan for the future. We must. Life is as uncertain for the Christian as it is for the pagan. We are always intent on something, concerned about something. We need to eat, to drink, to be clothed.That only becomes sin when we are concerned for ourselves apart from God and His revealed will, when we seek our own bodily needs or health before the things of God, or when we vainly imagine that we can secure them for ourselves by our own wisdom and strength. Such thoughts are obviously foolish even to the pagans. Life is uncertain and unfair.
Thus we are to seek first the Kingdom of God. That endures. That is obtainable. We don’t ignore ourselves. Jesus tells us to take heed to ourselves. If we don’t our hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and the Day of Judgment will come upon us unexpectedly. Our concern isn’t first for bodily health but for spiritual health. We examine ourselves according to God’s Law so that we might recognize our sins and repent, striving to know ourselves and our weaknesses and God’s will so that we might do better. We take heed to ourselves then by casting our cares upon God, not only our cares for ood, drink, and clothing, and whatever else we think is good that we need or want, but also our care for our souls. Bodily life and happiness are not guaranteed, but salvation is. What we could not win for ourselves has been won and bought for us. We are redeemed in Christ. The ultimate lesson for this life is that this life is not all that there is.
God knows best. He works in ways that we cannot see or understand. We wait for it to be revealed. He who gave His own Son for our lives will not abandon or forsake us. We bet everything on that. Jesus lives. This defines us, enables us, encourages us. We put all our trust in that. Whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s. He lives so we will live and that forever.
For now, however, we suffer the requirements of the body. We need food, drink, and clothing. Even though plants and birds don’t sow and reap, work and spin, we must and we do. We are concerned for these things. But, again, life is uncertain. We make our plans as best we can seeking first the Kingdom of God and then, in the confidence that Jesus lives and this is all passing away, fulfilling our vocations. We are concerned not merely for ourselves but also for our loved ones, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for our neighbors. But we know that our lives and prosperity, even the health and education of our children, and the well-being of our nation are not secured by these things. They are secured by God or they are taken away. He provides for and arrays birds and flowers in beauty; He also lets them fall from the sky and throws them into the fire.
His promise to take care of us is not a promise of earthly prosperity or fulfillment. He sees farther and clearer than the sheep. What is needed for the next life, often comes at the expense of the present. For example, most of the saints who have been transferred to glory, with only a couple of exceptions, have done so through death. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Jesus died, yet Jesus lives. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
The ultimate lesson for this world is that we do not belong to this world and its constant need for food, drink, and clothing. Therefore we should not be overly concerned with bodily health or storing up treasures in barns or making friends with the world. We belong to God and to each other. All of us, have had one foot in heaven since Baptism. We can’t ever be fully comfortable here. We are working toward being there, apart from this world, where we actually belong and will thrive. Thus, even now, we strive for and seek the Kingdom of God.
This discomfort with the world brings conflict even in our own bodies. While still here in this life, we need food, drink, and clothing. We also have loved ones that we want to and must provide for. We aren’t reckless or careless, but we also aren’t terrified. We know to whom we belong. We are ready to go. Some things are worse than torture, starvation, violence, and death. The martyrs show us that. God will take care of His own.
So we make our plans and our mistakes, we calculate the cost and try our best, we assess the risk as best we can and decide what matters most or what is worth it. This world and our path through it is uncertain, but ultimately we rest, not on the strength of our own calculations or abilities, and certainly not on the authority of experts, but wholly on the Spirit given by God for our lives. This is just as true behind the trigger as it is when the barrel is pointed at your head. It is just as true in concentration camps as it is while dining sumptuously at Ruth’s Chris. It is just as true in the times of plague as it is a sunny meadow full of health.
Anxiety and worry are futile. We are in God’s hands. He lifts us from earthly concerns and directs us to His promises. Jesus lives. Life on earth is uncertain, but this uncertainty and the sorrows and pains of this life need not cause us anxiety. Jesus lives. Whatever happens is under God’s control. He is working it all together for good to those who love Him.
Come this day and seek the Kingdom in the Sacrament where the risen Body and Blood of Jesus is given to believers for the forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith. Here is food for the soul that is denied to birds and flowers. Here is strength for the day and courage for the morrow. Jesus lives. He knows what He is doing. These days will not last.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.