Reflections on the Readings
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - March 2, 2014 - Year A
Your Heavenly Father Knows
"Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all." - Jesus
I'm the oldest of six children. We never went to bed hungry. Our daddy worked hard; sometimes two jobs or was it three to keep food on the table and clothes on our backs. Daddy knew we needed these things.
Also, every Wednesday night, Sunday morning and evening, the Hankins clan climbed into the old station wagon and went to church. I do not recall missing these appointed times unless there was illness. I never heard, "I'm too tired, I think we'll stay home tonight." Never! Daddy knew we needed God too.
In all my childhood and teenage years I was never anxious, concerned or otherwise uptight about what I would eat or drink or wear. I wore my shoes until there were holes on the bottom of the soles. And my britches had patches on the knees. I thought that was cool. Today, guys and gals buy their jeans already with tears in them. The holes in my blue jeans got there the old fashion way. I played outside and rode a bicycle and climbed the stately tree out back and got dirt and sand on my knees and every where else playing back yard basketball and football at Tully's house across the street.
My daddy grew up in hard times. He quit school at age 16 and got a job to help feed the family. When the soles of his shoes wore through, he placed cardboard in them. After marriage and six kids later, he obtained a GED, an Associates of Arts Degree, and went 5 years of summer school for seminary training at Southern Methodist University in Dallas while pastoring in the United Methodist Church in Arkansas, serving that denomination about 30 years. He was a great preacher of the Gospel.
Seeking God and his plan and doing his will came first in the house I grew up in. My folks were stewards of the mystery of marriage and family. I learned from them that there there is a God, that He loves us, that He's our heavenly Father and knows what we need.
Father. Heavenly Father. Jesus tells us about his Father, but more than that he tells you and me that his Father is our Father and that He loves us and knows our every longing and need. Not everyone is as fortunate as me to have grown up with a loving mother and father in the home. Maybe it's easier for me to relate to my heavenly Father because of the home I grew up in. But even so, our heavenly Father is not out there somewhere beyond our wounds of heart and soul, unreachable, unaware of what lies hidden in our memories. His affection for each one is real, personal, and eternal. Even the deepest hurt in our heart he knows. There is nothing hidden from his love. If there was we could not endure another sunrise. He is, however, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort who comforts us in all that burdens us. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
Our God is both fatherly and motherly. The first reading says so. The prophet muses that it is unthinkable that a mother could neglect or forget the child of her womb, that she could be without tenderness for her baby. But, even if that should happen, if a mother should forget the kids she's borne because she's old or has Alzheimer's disease, God says, "I'll never forget you!" He'll not forget the mother with dementia nor her children. In His eyes he sees himself in us, children created in his image.
God cares for all of His creation. He even feeds the birds of the air. Because of Him the foxes have holes and the birds have nests and the flowers of the field burst with color and life. Oh, but for you and me He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of humankind, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Why? Because life is more than food, and the body more than clothing, and what's in your soul is more important than what's in your bank account. And because you are of immeasurable value in his eyes.
So what comes first? I mean is it more important to accumulate stuff and things and the love of money your priority? Writing to Timothy Paul warned of this insatiable craving for more advising that some had wandered from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs, wrongly believing that godliness is a means of gain.(1 Timothy 6:10) He explained rather that holiness and charity in our heart with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content. (1 Timothy 6:7, 8)
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com