An Offering of Peace

We live in an information era in case you missed it. That’s both good and bad. Good in that we can share information with disparate people and save ourselves a lot of duplication and research time.

Bad in that, well. Consider this:

There is a commercial the subject of which escapes me (that is fairly normal, many ads grab your attention but never quite tie their message to the product). Anyway this particular one is about the linking problem.

The daughter says, “I need to get new shoes for the dance,” and the mother, repeats, “shoes? Menolas, designer pumps,” and the father repeats, “pumps? gasoline pumps, need to refill the car.” And this goes on and on as people finally go into a loop and just stand there mesmerized, their brains in lockdown.

That’s what can happen in our information craze. Go to read a post, and start following the links, and follow those links, and soon you are 42 subjects from where you started, and none the wiser usually.

My mind seems a constant whirl of thoughts, but I guess the Internet has nothing to do with that. It’s the way we are. If you are a meditator, you certainly appreciate what I’m saying. How to clear the mind, and remain simply present?

Our readings today reflect advice that most of us should take to heart. Stop thinking so much!

Isaiah reminds us that we need not spend time worrying about whether God is and will remain faithful. That is like asking a woman to forget her baby. It’s just not gonna happen. (Isa 49:14-15)

Paul reminds us in 1Cor 4:1-5 that we shouldn’t be worrying about whether other folks are doing what they should either. It’s not up to us to judge, so why spend the time even thinking about such things. If you’ve ever sat in church and looked around, and casually thought, “my but that person seems interested in everything but worship today” you know what I mean. Of course, I guess we weren’t thinking much about worship either, but somehow that thought seems to escape us.

Jesus, really makes this very clear in MT 6:24-34. He reminds us that the  birds of the air do absolutely nothing to warrant their food, yet God takes care of them. And why should we worry about what to wear? The flowers of the field are made resplendent, with nary a lifted leaf to warrant their beauty.

The readings today tell us, in total, to stop worrying about ourselves and others. God will take care of all. And it’s good advice, for the most part. Again, anyone who meditates knows this. If you pay attention to the thoughts that float across your mind when you are sitting in silence, you will find that mostly ninety percent of them have to do with worrying about things past or fears of what may come. We simply don’t live much in the moment.

In the moment. So easy to say, so very hard to do. To stay present to our loved ones, to the activity at hand. No doubt most “accidents” are caused by inattention to what is at hand. We’re busy texting, or talking, or thinking of something else.

Reflect back to something twenty, thirty years ago. Remember a time when your hours were filled with worry about X. Remember the emotional agony you endured. Painful hours spent worrying. And X never happened. If you are like most of us, you’ve done this enumerable times throughout your life. We all have.

If we only knew the value of the present moment, that ephemeral moment that as soon as you recognize it, is past. The ever-changing moment. Yet it is here that God is. It is here we meet the transcendent. It is here we live and have our being. It is the only thing that we can claim as “ours.”

Yet, as important as this is. There is need to think of the future. It would be imprudent to not make plans. I mean is it not intelligent to save money for our old age? Is it not prudent to study hard with a view to good grades and better college prospects? Do we not plan for vacations, our children’s health, and myriads of other things?

Yes, as Shakespeare would say, “there’s the rub.” Some thinking about the future is essential to live practical lives. We have to plan shopping trips lest there be no food in the house. Prudence dictates a certain amount of forethought.

So, where is the dividing line? For Jesus suggests that we need not worry about our food or clothing, God will take care of us. Well, perhaps we take that too literally. Perhaps what Jesus was saying is that we should not spend our time worrying about such things. Worrying and planning are not the same. Peter and Andrew and the others planned for their livelihood by going out to fish. They didn’t expect the fish to beach themselves on shore for them to scoop up.

Jesus’ admonition seems more along the lines of our tendency to obsess about the future. When we read further into the passage, he reminds us to:

Set your heart on  his Kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you as well.

In other words, do your normal jobs of life, but do them with an eye to living as God would have you. Good things come when  we love God, and our neighbor. Being present to God enables us to do that “good job” and grace results. We are fed.

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