8th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Cycle A)
Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Abbreviations: NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation). CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).
The two Testaments reveal God's divine plan for humanity, and that is why we read and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy. The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).
The Theme of this Sunday's Readings: Trusting in God's Providence
Every generation of believers has to trust in God's divine plan for humanity and the carrying out of His plan by His loving rule and governance. God's eternal plan and its fulfillment in time are called "divine providence."
In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah compares God's love and concern for His people to a mother's devotion to her child. The Responsorial Psalm echoes the same confidence in God's loving concern for His people. The psalmist has confidence that God is not only his refuge, but He is also the refuge for all people who place their confidence in the divine providence of God.
St. Paul, in the Second Reading, defines the role of all Christians as "servants of Christ" and "stewards of God's mysteries." This ministry must put those called by Christ beyond the reach of grudges and petty arguments. To these servants and stewards, Christ entrusted His teaching and His Sacraments. Christians are honor bound to protect these treasures faithfully and, acting as Jesus' agents, they are not just to manage these gifts, but they must pass them on.
The Gospel Reading is a continuation of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In this part of Jesus' homily, He makes the contrast between two conditions: the sighted and the blind or light verses darkness and the contrast between two masters: God or the world. Jesus tells us that no one can serve two masters. God and the values of the world are not compatible. We must choose one or the other. To fulfill our Christian mission to generate the light of Christ to the world, all Christians must serve Him through His Kingdom of the Church with a sincere and exclusive devotion and with complete trust in His universally divine providence.
Divine providence of God is universal in that all events, including the most personal decisions of men and women, are part of God's eternal plan. His plan is infallibly certain because the ultimate purpose that God has for the universe will not fail. It is also immutable because God Himself cannot change. The First Vatican Council (1869-70) declared: "By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, ‘reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well.' For ‘all are open and laid bare to his eyes,' even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures" (Vatican I, Dei Filius 1:DS 3003; quoting from Wis 8:1 and Heb 4:13).
The First Reading Isaiah 49:14-15 ~ God will not Forget
14 Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me; my LORD has forgotten me." 15 Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
The 8th century BC prophet Isaiah prophesied that God's temporal judgment against the covenant people.They forgot God's mighty works on their behalf and abandoned their allegiance to His law and right worship, and their judgment was years of exile in pagan land. Using the word "Zion" (the Temple mountain in Jerusalem) to identify the covenant people, the prophet foretold the people will cry out in their exile, saying "The LORD has forsaken me; my LORD has forgotten me." The prophet then answers their future cry with words of comfort, assuring them: Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. Isaiah compares God's love for His covenant people with a mother's love for the infant she bore and promises, even should a mother forget her child, God will never forget His people (verse 15). He will redeem His people and will return them to their "Promised Land."
This passage introduces the theme of God's divine providence in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God did not forget mankind's need for a Redeemer-Messiah. He sent His Son to redeem mankind and to restore humanity to the true "Promised Land" of Heaven.
Responsorial Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8 ~ Only in God is my Soul
The response is: "Rest in God alone, my soul."
1 Only in God is my soul at rest; from him comes my salvation. 2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.
5 Only in God be at rest, my soul, for from him comes my hope. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
7 With God is my safety and my glory, he is the rock of my strength; my refuge is in God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him.
The psalmist's confession in verses 1-2 and 5-6 makes it clear that he trusts in God's providence alone. God is his only source of inner peace and security, providing "rest" for the soul from the burdens of life. In verses 7-8 the psalmist expresses confidence that God is not only his refuge but is also the refuge of the nation of Israel. He urges his people to "pour out your hearts before him," placing all their confidence in the divine providence of God.
Christians should have this same confidence and more. Jesus gave all believers the promise of His protection and "rest" for the soul when He said: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Mt 11:28-30). St. John Chrysostom (344/354-404) addressed the confidence Christians should have in Christ when he wrote: "Many are the high waves and dangerous are the storms, but we do not fear shipwreck: we are founded on rock. Although the sea may rage, the rock will not be destroyed. Although the waves may rise, the barque of Jesus will not be sunk. [...] Little of what the world sees as fearful troubles me. I laugh at the goods this world offers to me. I am not afraid of poverty, nor do I desire riches. I do not fear death, nor do I desire to go on living if that is not to my spiritual good" (St. John Chrysostom, Sermo antequam iret in exilium).
The Second Reading 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 ~ God will Judge
His Servants and Stewards
1 Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God. 2 Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself. 4 I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.
St. Paul defines the role of every disciple of Christ as "servants of Christ" and "stewards of God's mysteries." This ministry puts those so called beyond the reach of grudges and petty arguments. To these servants and stewards, Christ has entrusted His property: His teaching and His Sacraments. They are honor bound to protect these treasures faithfully and, acting as Jesus' agents, they are not just to manage these gifts, but they must pass them on (verses 1-2).
In verses 3-5, Paul points out that a servant is answerable for his actions, but he is answerable only to his master, and only his master can judge him. Therefore, referring to the minister of Jesus Christ, St. Paul declares that only the Lord can be his judge because it is to Christ that his service is owed. It is obvious that Paul is speaking from his experience. He is not just giving advice or taking the people of Corinth to task. He is speaking from a heart full of pastoral love and solicitude. We must not let petty disputes within the faith community divide us. If there are violations of Christian conduct, however, Jesus gave explicit instructions concerning what course of action should be taken (Mt 18:15-17). Ultimately, all Christian ministers will have to answer to the Divine Judge who will issue His verdict, and St. James warned that all teachers of the Word will receive a stricter judgment for their transgressions (Jam 3:1).
The Gospel of Matthew 6:24-34 ~ Trust in God's Providence
Jesus said: "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. 25 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? 26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? 27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? 28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. 29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. 30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat? Or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?' 32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these will be given you besides. 34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."
In this part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He turns from the contrast between two treasures (6:19-20) to the contrast between two conditions: the sighted and the blind, or light versus darkness (6:22-23), and two masters: God or the world (6:24). Matthew 6:24b is the key verse of this entire section: You cannot serve God and mammon, which means, "No one can serve two masters." God and the values of the world are not compatible. We must choose one or the other for we must serve God with a sincere and exclusive devotion.
Matthew 6:19-26 is a summing up and a conclusion on Jesus' teaching on the public life of the Christian disciple and the accumulation of earthy possessions. The Christian must compare the security of the two treasures, the usefulness of the two eye conditions, and the worth of the two masters:
|The Two Treasures (6:19-21)||
|The Two Eye Conditions (6:22-23)||
darkness to the body
a light to the body
|The Two Masters (6:24)||
the false, temporary master
the true, good and eternal master
And when we makee the choice for heavenly treasure: for the light of Christ for good sight, and for God as our true Master then, Jesus says, this is how we behave: Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life... (verse 25). When we choose God, we do not need to be anxious about what we eat or what we wear. If all our energy is devoted to our relationship with God, we will not have time to concern ourselves with worrying about what we cannot control.
Again Jesus teaches His disciples by providing a contrast; this time it is a contrast of two life goals: earthly ambition as opposed to Godly ambition. In essence, Jesus says that worry is a lack of faith in the providence of God. Jesus teaches that God created and now sustains life just as He created and now helps us to sustain our bodies. The logic is, if God takes care of our lives, can't we trust Him to take care of the needs of our bodies, and if we trust God to take care of our lives and our bodies, can't we also trust Him to take care of the less important matters like our food and clothing?
Jesus reinforces this logic by asking a question in verse 27: Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? The last word in this Greek phrase can be translated as either "life-span" or "stature." To add an extra inch to our height or an extra minute to our lives is not in our hands. If we must leave these issues to God, shouldn't we also leave the greater issues over which we have no control in His hands? But this passage does not mean that:
In verse 34, Jesus says that we must ...not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself, meaning that we do the best that we can with the circumstances God gives us and leave the rest up to God by refusing to become a slave to worry. If we become a slave to worry, we are not trusting in God's providence to provide for us.
In conclusion, Jesus says: Sufficient for a day is its own evil (verse 34). He means one day's trouble is enough for one day. Take one day at and time, living that day in full obedience to God. Worry is not compatible with a Christian's trust in God.
Catechism References: (* indicates the Scripture passage
is quoted in the citation)
Isaiah 49:14-15 (CCC 219*, 370*); 49:15 (CCC 239*)
1 Corinthians 4:1 (CCC 859, 1117*); 4:5 (CCC 678*)
Matthew 6:24 (CCC 2608, 2792*, 2821*, 2848); 6:25-34 (CCC 2547*, 2830*); 6:25 (CCC 2608*); 6:24-26 (322*); 6:26 (CCC 2416*); 6:31-33 (CCC 305); 6:31-33 (CCC 305); 6:32 (CCC 270*); 6:33 (CCC 1942, 2604*, 2608*, 2632*); 6:34 (CCC 2659*, 2836*)
Childlike faith in God's providence: CCC 305, 322, 2215, 2547, 2820
Definition of: CCC 302, 321
Divine providence as God's plan is carried out: CCC 302-05
Divine providence and evil: CCC 309-14, 324, 395
Witness of Sacred Scripture to: 303
Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2014; revised 2017