When I was a child, the gospel from today seemed straight forward – no one can serve two masters, so pick one and stay on that team. I didn’t need to be told not to worry about life because life’s worries didn’t really impact me. I had a nice home, plenty to eat, pleasant diversions. Life was good, and although I didn’t think about it then, I probably felt like the birds in the sky, singing and soaring and doing what I was called to do with blissful abandon.
As I have grown and accumulated worldly responsibilities, however, these passages hold new, more difficult challenges for me. The two masters takes on a different meaning when can actually have two masters – work (or two or three “works”) and God. The pressure of making a living can many times push all else in our lives into a second position. And I know I shouldn’t worry about what I will eat or drink, but I do need to go to the store and buy the food and prepare it. I do need to make sure there is enough for my family to eat. I shouldn’t be anxious about the clothes I wear, but I do need to buy them and clean them and maintain them. Jesus lived in a time before health care, automobiles,retirement plans, the stock market, cell phones, cable TV and the many other ways we have found to both make life easier and more diverting while simultaneously creating new and exotic concerns on which we can spend our (worry) time.
So what is Jesus calling us to do? People had worries in His time,just as now. Perhaps the number of worry items was smaller then, but the worries were no less pressing on people’s minds. It probably was just as easy then, as it is now, to get wrapped up in the daily concerns of living and lose sight of the glory of life. I don’t think Jesus is literally calling us to not be conncerned about the business of daily life, but to have an attitude of disconnection from those concerns. I think He reminds us that life is mean to be a JOY, not a burden, and that we can make it a joy by how we approach it.
In the late 1980s there was a popular song by Bobby McFerrin titled “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I think it is hard for us to let go of the daily things that we “need” and to not worry about acquiring more of them. We are bombarded with the pressures to get this and do that. Nike has its famous slogan “Just Do It!” I have found it helpful, when I feel the pressures of daily worryness build up on me, to modify this slogan into a mantra – “Just Let Go.” When I just let go I can face the concern in the right perspective – not a monumental worry but a temporary inconvenience, not a burden but a gift from God, not a reason to become distressed but a chance to be Joy full. I am not always successful, but in the trying is the benefit.
My prayer today is to continue to let go, to not worry, to be happy and to feel the joy of life.
By Tom Purcell