“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
A dear friend – and a very honest one – admitted to me the other day that he did not like the reading about “anyone who has looked at a woman with lust has committed adultery”. His reaction was something along the lines of “If that’s Jesus’ opinion, he should tell his Dad to do something about our hormones”.
That’s how I always feel reading today’s Gospel. You want me to stop worrying? Then why did you make me such a…Felice? We raise tension to a level of high comedic art. My brother was recently asked “Are you tense?” and he responded “No more than usual”. During my headshot session I was repeatedly told to relax, and finally shouted “I am a Felice! I haven’t relaxed in 15 years!” As for our father…well, let’s be charitable and just say that he is a textbook Virgo, God love him.
So I approach this section of Matthew’s Gospel with some trepidation. Like most of my less admirable qualities, I have worked hard not to squash my anxiety but to transform it into something that can work for me. What looks like worry can easily be planning ahead, or thoroughness, or capability. Worry means that I have flute parts ready for rehearsal. Worry means I have enough gummy snacks ready on retreat. Worry means I have all my music learned. And so it goes. I have finally stopped laying awake in terror all night before all-school liturgies. That has to be good for something.
Yes, I trust that God can take care of things. But I want to help.
And I want to get it right. I want to keep moving down the path of what one friend referred to as my “relentless quest for self-improvement”. Perhaps that’s why I find some consolation in today’s Second Reading:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts
I am far from a perfect steward of God’s mysteries, but I’m trying. Because I am surrounded by others who are aiming for the same path of righteousness, most of my nervous energy is directed down that path as well, and I thank my lucky stars every day that my loved ones are there to remind me what is important and what our goals should be. Together with them I strive to cultivate God’s goodness, to uncover the reality beneath the superficial worries of “what are we to eat, and what are we to drink, and what are we to wear?” If my labor in this regard is occasionally a source of worry, I won’t compound that worry by worrying that it is sinful.
I’m sure tomorrow will take care of itself, but I’ll still try to be prepared, just in case.