Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Gospel from Matthew 6

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
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.


A few years back a very silly simple song became a huge hit.  It was a reggae tune sung by Bobby McFerrin called:  "Don't Worry, Be Happy"    I’m sure many of you remember it.

For a while it seemed everywhere you went someone was humming or singing this silly song. People would pass each other and smile and then greet each other with a – Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

The main lyric went: 
“In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry you make it double:  
don't worry, be happy.”

That is what Jesus is saying to us today. Three times Jesus insists that his disciples – and we – not worry about life, food or drink, the body or clothing and he urges us to put our confidence in God, to serve God FIRST

There are two types of worries:
  • The worry that comes from constantly wanting  more …
  • And the worry that comes when you truly don’t have enough … 

Many of us fall into the first category. We have enough we have food and clothing and a roof over our heads, but we are constantly seeking more. What is Jesus saying to us?
He says don’t try to serve two masters God and mammon or God and money. You can’t do it! You must choose. If you serve money – if that is what you think about most, work for most, constantly wanting more, always living for tomorrow and the possessions it will bring – that only produces anxiety and worry. The Gospel warns those of us who have enough of life’s necessities, not to give in to the greedy desire to always want more.   
Jesus says: Be happy with what you have!

We who are blessed with enough need to listen when Jesus says:
 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

Jesus says to each of us today – seek God first and be happy because happiness will not come from making money your God!  He says if you really want to be happy ask yourself these questions:

·         Do I put Christ first in my life?
·         Do I spend time with Him each day in prayer? 
·         Do I study and meditate on His Word so that I can grow in my knowledge and understanding of Him and how He desires me to live?

To seek God’s Kingdom also requires us to find our place of service in that kingdom; using the gifts, talents, skills and abilities that He has bestowed on each of us for this very purpose.

Jesus says to us today – stop worrying about tomorrow and live for God’s kingdom today, in the now of life.  Make this moment count for God.

He tells us the way to find happiness, contentment and security is by embracing the mission of spreading the good news about Jesus and his kingdom to the world.

To those who suffer from the second type of worry, who are struggling just to survive, to those of us who truly worry about how we will feed our families, these words are more challenging.   When you aren’t sure if you can pay the rent, or put food on the table, or when you face serious health issues; the simplistic instruction “Don’t worry, Be Happy” is a bit harder to hear.  Jesus says, seek the Kingdom of God first and have trust. Trust that when you do you will see the Kingdom of God working as it should.

That’s really what Jesus means by “the Kingdom of God.”  He means all of us loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Is it enough for us who have plenty to tell those who do not have enough “Don’t worry Be Happy?”

This question reminds me of the great teaching in the Epistle of James, where St. James says:
           “My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith
            if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose
            there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough
            to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you!
            Keep warm and eat well!” if you don't give them the necessities of life? 
            So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead.”
James 2:14-18

Jesus said: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”
Jesus is asking each of us today to help make The Kingdom of God a reality

We do that when those of us with enough, make sure those who truly do struggle, have the blessings God promises. That is how the Kingdom is meant to work.  Christians – followers of Christ – taking care of each other, loving each other.  This is the kind of conduct that characterize the reign of God. For this to be, requires that those of us who do have enough of life’s necessities not be fixated on a quest for more, but rather cooperate with God in providing for those truly in need in his Kingdom

God has actually set up for us a win-win situation.  When those who are better off help those who are less fortunate, those who are poor can let go their worries about survival; and those better off can be released from the anxiety that comes from enslavement to possessions.  That way both rich and poor can truly to live out McFerrin’s lyric:
“Don’t worry, be happy!”

When we shift our focus from worrying about money or the future, to walk in the way of Jesus – building the Kingdom of God – then we begin to find true contentment and meaning in our lives?            

And that really is good news. 


Kimmie Surfing San Diego said...

I think this is one of the hardest messages to get across. My grandfather grew up in extreme poverty in Ireland and he always said it is hard to be catholic when you are hungry. He would also add in, "where is bloody Mother Mary when you are searching for food?". I would always tell him she is exactly where she should be but where are you? Well done Deacon Mike, well done!

Primetime said...

Deacon Mike,
I just came across your blog and love it. I am reading them all.
I really appreciate this one because you remind us of our flaws during daily life. I can relate in both aspects to a certain degree but the most important thing to remember is God will never leave us. If God is in our complete focus during tough times & victories, our vision is clear. We understand helping others in need because Jesus is in us. On the flip side, when rent is due or we are in extreme debt and it seems like there is no way out, God is always listening for our righteousness to appear. All of a sudden, doors are open, opportunities become available, there are an abundance of blessings. God Bless and keep em coming.
I appreciate your Blog.

Nick Loera