Eighth SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, 2017
The first reading taken from the book of prophet Isiah reassures us the love of God for us. Prophet Isiah says that God’s love is even greater than the maternal love, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you”? In the Gospel Jesus states that for God human beings are more important than animals. Why human beings are so special and more important to God than animals? It is because we have been created according to his image and likeness (Genesis 1/27). Further, it is the divine breath that we all breathe Genesis 2/7). These divine attributes were given exclusively to us human beings. Therefore it is not that God who forsake us or abandon us, but it is we who really forsake or abandon God. Even if we abandon him, He comes in search of us like a loving father.
Today Jesus tells in the gospel, that people should not be over concerned about material things namely food, drink and cloths. He doesn’t mean that we should not eat, drink and dress. He is not forbidding us enjoying material comforts. What Jesus says is that we should not go in search of material prosperity at the expense of our spiritual wellbeing. Jesus once said “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul” (Mt 16/26). Our physical bodies need natural food and drink but we must also need the spiritual food. Jesus once said “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life” (Jn 6/27). Many people are unaware of the hunger of their souls (Spiritual Hunger). And this is precisely why some of the wealthiest, most famous, and accomplished people in our society are dying of spiritual starvation. What can satisfy our spiritual hunger? Spiritual activities like personal prayer, reading the Bible in a meditative spirit, confessing our sins regularly, spiritual reading and above all, going for holy Mass can feed our souls.
We need to dress well but we must also dress ourselves with spiritual clothing. The dress code for the heavenly banquet is spiritual attire. In fact God created us according to his image and likeness and wrapped our lives with a divine skin or divine cloth. St. Paul defines baptism as putting on Christ. In his letter to Galatians he says, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (3/27). This expression has a very important spiritual significance. We all were born with a sinful skin because of the original sin committed by our first parents. However God has removed this sinful skin and clothed ourselves with a new garment of holiness through baptism. That is why in the early Church, catechumens went into the waters of baptism and were given a white robe to cover themselves when they came out. Even today, when a person is baptized, he or she is given a white outer garment to symbolically accept the life of Jesus into her or his life. Since we have put on Christ like a sacred garment, it is Jesus who should emerge through our words and deeds.
St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians very clearly says, “You must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).All the saints we venerate were able to cloth themselves with those Christian virtues. For example look at St. Mother Teresa in whom people could see the holiness of God. People could experience God’s compassion and kindness through her life. We all are precious to God and therefore our heavenly Father wants to see us clothed in holiness and righteousness. He wants to see us wearing these clothes every day-not only because it pleases him so much, but also because our spiritual “clothing” can have a great effect on the people around us.
We need spiritual nourishment as well as physical nourishment. We also need to have spiritual clothing as well as material clothing.