Commentary on Matthew 6:24-34
We continue with Jesus’ teaching on our attitude to material and visible things.
We have to make a choice between the vision of life that Jesus offers or a preoccupation with money and possessions. They are not compatible. They involve conflicting goals in life and different visions of what is most important in life. The truly materialistic person may have a veneer of Christian practice but cannot be a really committed Christian and vice versa.
Jesus preaches what St Ignatius Loyola calls ‘indifference’ to material things. Obviously some material things – like food and clothing and shelter – are necessary to daily living. At different times other things will be necessary too.
The attitude of ‘indifference’ is not that one does not care; on the contrary, one cares very much. But one cares to have things and to use things only in so far as they are needed to love and serve God and others for his sake. Jesus urges us to liberate ourselves from worry and anxiety about our body and material things such as food and clothing.
To be concerned about food because right now I am very hungry and do not have any is very different from worrying whether I will have food next month; to be anxious about what is happening when I am in intensive care is very different from wondering how long my health will hold up in the coming years; to be fretting because I have no money to pay my rent with the landlord knocking at the door is very different from wondering whether I will ever be rich.
Worry and anxiety about the future are a waste of time and energy yet we indulge in them so much. We are invited to look at the birds of the air and the flowers in the field. They do nothing except be themselves and God takes care of them. And how beautiful they are! When their time comes they pass away.
We are often so busy regretting the past or worrying about the future that we never get to enjoy life. Enjoyment and happiness are only in the present. Nowhere else. If we keep looking forward or looking back we will never find happiness. And yet it is right here in our grasp at every moment of every day. As Fr Tony de Mello used to say, “You have everything you need right now to be happy.” How our lives would be transformed if only we could really believe that! Because happiness can only be in the NOW. Yesterday’s happiness is gone; tomorrow’s does not exist. If I am not happy now, I never will be.
So, to follow the advice of Jesus today, “Do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself.” God is in the here and now and nowhere else. He is always available.