An introduction to “Theo-Civics.”

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HOMILY FOR THE 8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Readings: Is. 49:14-15/ 1Cor. 4:1-5

Psalm:  62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9

Gospel Mt. 6:24-34

          In 1977, John Denver and George Burns starred in the movie “Oh, God!” Denver played an assistant manager at a supermarket where he gets an invitation to meet with God, played by George Burns. Reluctant at first, Denver become God’s spokesman on earth as his world was crumbling down about him. In order to prove his claim, a group of ministers gives him a set of questions written in Aramaic to try and trip him up. While in seclusion, God arrives and helps them answer the questions.  In one of the questions, the group asked “Which of the world’s religions is the closest to the Divine Truth?”  God answered the question this way. “No building or book or story has the answer of the Divine Truth. The heart is the temple where all truth resides.” Sometimes we need to remember that despite all the rhetoric regarding who is superior, it is what we have in our hearts that brings the work that God asks of us to show his love for each other.

As we conclude the Gospel proclaimed today from the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus’ concerns with trying to listen to multiple voices saying they are right. Jesus is that no one can serve two masters. We generally understand that to mean no one can be beholden to God and money at the same time. Both will pull us in opposite directions to gain our attention. So we have to choose in order to make our lives uncomplicated by having too many irons in the fire. We try to tell ourselves that we are doing this to make our lives better in the long run. But in the process, we eventually lose ourselves.

How do we decide which one to follow? Jesus gives us the guide. He tells us to look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, but God cares for them just as much as he does us. Look at the flowers in the field. They do not work or spin, but they are more beautiful than anything that King Solomon had ever worn. So if God provides for their needs, why do we need to worry about how he will provide for ours?  Seek first the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us, and all his righteousness at all these things will be given to you. All that is needed is for us to listen to the voice of God and there we can find true happiness; not only for ourselves, but for all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

So often we hear a lot of people saying the same words at the same volume but having a slightly different meaning. Just one change in a phrase can mean the difference between prosperity or pain. We all want to see everyone do well, but we don’t want that to happen at the expense of others. For when we do well together, we all prosper; but when we act out of fear and vanity, we all suffer. Our duty as citizens is to be sure that what we do in society helps everyone be a better person. This does not just make us better citizens, but better Christians.

When I was in school, I had to learn what it meant to be a citizen of this country. I and my classmates had to learn such things as Morals (the study of concerning oneself with right and wrong in their distinction), and Ethics (the concept to conform to an accepted standard of good behavior). These two ideals became the basis of the concept of Law in this country (the custom or practice recognized as binding by a community).  When we were deemed ready, we showed our proficiency in these matters by answering questions regarding the U.S. and Illinois State Constitutions. In other words, we studied Civics (the study of the rights and duties of citizens).

These past few weeks, Jesus has been giving us his own brand of, for lack of a better term, “Theo-civics.”  He has asked of us to think beyond we have known what the law has been into what the law supposed to be. Jesus wants us to live for the present, not in the past nor in the future; for God will provide to those who cannot provide for themselves. How God will do that is up to us.  He looks to us for that providence as much as you look to God for it, and even more so.  As we move forward toward the Lenten season, our belief in God will be reflected each one of us in order for us to understand the Paschal Mystery.

We cannot truly understand the Resurrection without knowing its purpose in our lives. And we will not be able to know its purpose without proper reflection upon the words of Christ and his revelation of his Father’s will. Likewise, a person cannot understand the laws of the country without recognizing the rationale behind them.  Being both a citizen and a Christian takes work, and not only just a superficial understanding. We are not superficial because God is not superficial; for we are made in the likeness of God. Jesus speaks to us today to remind us of this. We are to keep that in mind as we prepare for Lent; our journey of reflection and repentance. To repent means that we must forgive; to forgive means that we must reflect; to reflect means that we understand. Let our understanding of the civics of our faith enable us to treasure meaning of Lent.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK

Questions for Reflection:

1. What are the things that are taking you away from God?  What will it take for you to come back?

2. Are there certain things that have kept you from fully embracing the faith?

3.  What did Jesus mean at the end of the Gospel when he said “Sufficient for a day is its       own evil?”

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