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Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Mt. 6: 24-34

God loves all His children and provides for them. This was what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel. He assured them that there was no reason to be anxious about food and clothing, because their heavenly Father was aware of all their needs and would surely provide them. What could be more comforting than that – to know that we are under the watchful eye of a loving, caring God, who will see to it that all our basic needs will always be supplied? But do we really believe that? Is it supported by facts? Some things seem to argue against it.

When Jesus made this comforting statement, the Earth was thought to be the hub of a relatively small universe. Heaven was just a short distance up in the sky. From there God looked down upon all His children. Now we know otherwise. Earth is not the centre of the universe. It is only one small planet, in one solar system, which is a small part of one galaxy. Scientists tell us that there are millions of other galaxies, many of them much larger than our own. Now we realise that our Earth is like one grain of sand in a vast desert. Dwelling on that grain of sand are more than seven billion people. How could we possibly believe that God cares about all of them, or even any of them?

One fact that cannot be denied is that many of God’s children are not being cared for, their basic needs are not being met. At this very moment, while we are talking about the providence of God, people are starving to death because they have no food, freezing to death because they do not have adequate clothing and shelter, dying of preventable and curable diseases because they do not have simple medical care. All this is happening in the same world where Jesus said, “I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are clothe It … your heavenly Father knows you need them all.”

There are places today where I could not preach this sermon, places where I could not even read this Gospel. Imagine standing before a congregation of people, where starving babies are being fed at the empty breasts of starving mothers, and saying to them, “Do not worry; you have a heavenly Father who will feed you.” Those words of Jesus would sound to them like nothing more than cruel mockery.

What is there then to say about divine providence? I still believe in what Jesus said that God cares for all His children. He provides enough food, more than enough food, to feed every person. There is no doubt about the sufficiency of food on this Earth. What is lacking is the distribution and sharing. If some people are greedy, eat and hoard more than they need, it is obvious that the poor will suffer. So the fault does not lie with God’s lack of providence, but with us greedy and selfish people. Countries like the UK are generous and do send aid to Third World countries but often it does not reach the needy because those in charge intercept it, even sell it to enrich their own pockets, or use the money from the sales to buy arms to fight their enemies and even kill their own people.

How does God provide for His children? The same way as He provides for the birds and the flowers – freely, abundantly and naturally. May we and our governments share the abundance of God with those who are not so fortunate as we are.

Lord Jesus, You are God and You will never deceive us. If You tell us that our heavenly Father provides for all the needs of His children we believe You. Teach us to be grateful for what we have because of Your munificence, not to waste it and to share it with those who have not enough of the necessities of life.

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