are the perfect antidote to the troubles of our time.
They tell us we don’t have to worry...
but we do need to get our priorities in order.
First, Isaiah reminds us that, in times of trouble,
God is the one who will not forget us.
Then the psalmist calls us to remember
that our hope and our strength comes from God.
And Paul tells the Corinthians
not to pay attention to any person or any human court,
but to Christ, who is the ultimate judge,
Finally, Jesus tells us that we can’t divide our loyalties.
Just like with last week’s gospel, scholars conclude that Jesus
probably said something like the first part of today’s gospel,
the part that is printed as the first paragraph in the bulletin.
They think the last part, the part printed as a second paragraph,
was added to address specific concerns
of the Christian community.
So Jesus really said
that we can’t split our loyalty to God
with someone else or something else.
We can’t serve both God and money.
As we get ready to step into Lent this Wednesday,
we can prepare ourselves by asking what really matters to us.
Do we have our priorities in order?
One of the ways to figure that out
is to look at how we spend our days,
which turns out to be, as author Annie Dillard said,
how we spend our lives.
It’s not a question of what we do for a living,
or where we live,
or even where we volunteer in our spare time.
It’s HOW we spend our lives wherever we are,
in the middle of whatever task we’re doing.
I was walking into the Y last week
when a teenager ahead of me slowed down
and held the door open for me.
When I stop at the Lagrange branch library,
I see one of the librarians smiling and listening
and patiently explaining things to patron after patron.
Grandparents travel, sometimes very long distances,
to spend time with their children and grandchildren.
I notice a friend who always gives generous tips,
sometimes twice the cost of the meal.
I heard that Elsie sat at the hospital all day
with a member of her church
waiting for doctors to tell her test results.
These folks have their priorities in order.
God is Number ONE for them,
so wherever they are and whatever they’re doing,
it’s the way they are—their very being—
that shows their choice between God and not-God.
The opposite of that is also true.
We can see when priorities get out of order,
or, as Jesus puts it,
when someone tries to give himself to both God and money.
The Golden Rule gets broken.
It becomes “Do to others before they do it to you.”
We can see examples of that these days,
especially in the major shifts to public policy.
Immigration enforcement that breaks up families.
Refugee policy that targets Muslims.
Health care policy that makes the poor pay more than the wealthy,
and, if they can’t afford to pay,
takes away their insurance.
Tax breaks for the wealthiest people
but not for the working poor.
Public policy that’s prompted by half-truths and outright lies.
We hear diatribes against people
because of what country they come from
or what religion they believe in.
These days we hear too many elected officeholders judge people—
as Martin Luther King put it—
by the color of their skin
rather than the content of their character.
The principles of Catholic Social Teaching—
those basic rights and dignity of all human persons
that are honored not only by Catholics
but also by other Christians and by Jews
and by Muslims and by every other religion—
those principles are being violated every day
in the public arena.
The first thing we are called to do in the face of injustice
is to keep our priorities in order.
God is God: our Number One.
All of us earthlings, as children of God,
are required to stand in holy relationship to one another.
So we will take peace with us as we go about our daily business,
whatever that may be.
We will choose to act with justice
toward all our sisters and brothers.
We will think about how we want people to treat us,
and we will go out of our way to treat everybody like that. -
With our priorities in order, we can leave worry behind.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006