To read the texts click on the texts: Isa 49:14-15; 1 Cor 4:1-5; Mt 6:24-34
Stress is considered one of the major causes of most illnesses today. The main reasons for stress may broadly be seen as regret about the past and obsession with the future and consequently not living in the present.
Often, the reason why we regret the past is because we did not do what we had to do to the best of our ability. The reason why we did not work to the best of our ability is because at that time we were thinking about the future. As someone once said “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”. The texts of today call for a tension free and worriless life. They call for a life that must be lived to the full without stress and anxiety. The prohibition, “Do not worry” in the Gospel text of today dominates the whole text and is used six times in it. The call to look at nature (the birds of the air and the lilies of the field) is a call to learn how God in his providence provides for them. This does not mean that human beings do not have to work for their living, rather it means that even after working as hard as they can, humans must realise the life is much more than simply work and earning a living. It has also to do with being. We are much more than our bodies.
Another aspect of looking and contemplating nature is that when we do so we realise that nature is what it is. One never sees a sunflower trying to imitate a rose or a cat attempting to bark like a dog. Each is content being what it is. With us, however, this is often not the case. We keep comparing ourselves with others. This makes us feel superior in some cases and inferior in others. It can lead to pride and arrogance and also to depression and dejection. When Jesus asks his disciples and us to look at nature, he is also asking them us to be who we are and glory in our selfhood. Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God and is unique and special. There is no need whatever for us to imitate others or to try to be someone else. To be sure we might want to imbibe the good qualities of others and learn from them, there is no need for us to be like them. We can practice those qualities by being ourselves.
This is what Isaiah stresses in the first reading of today when he states that God cares for each of us as if we were the only person on earth. The analogy of likelihood of a mother forgetting her baby is almost negligible. Yet, even if this was possible, it is impossible that God will forget us. Indeed, God has each of us carved on the palm of God’s hand.
This is also why Paul when writing to the Corinthians speaks of being faithful to what has been given him to do. He will not concern himself with the future and God’s commendation nor will he live in the future. The present is all that matters to him and he will do all that is required of him in the present. He will compare himself with no one and let no one but God influence his course of action. The reason why he does this is because God is always the one in control and what God does, he does for our good.
To be sure, there are many distractions in life, which sometimes can take us away from where we ought to look and focus. While planning for the future is good and desirable, what is undesirable is useless worry or anxiety. It is totally unnecessary to live in fear of what is to come or to regret what has been done. The way to live is to correct the mistakes of the past in the present or if they cannot be corrected not to repeat them and learn from them in the now.
Any comparison is odious. The way forward is to be content with who and what we are and to accept ourselves totally. We can do this when we realise the uniqueness that each of us possesses and that in our uniqueness and because of our uniqueness we are loved unconditionally by God. Our God is a God who cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Our God cares for the grass that is here today and burnt in the oven tomorrow and so will certainly care for all our needs.