First Reading: From the Book of Second Chronicles 24:17-25
Vrs17 After Jehoiada’s death the officials of Judah came to pay court to the king, and the king listened to their advice,
Vrs18 and they abandoned the Temple of Yahweh, God of their ancestors, for the worship of sacred poles and idols. Judah and Jerusalem incurred wrath because of this guilt of theirs.
Vrs19 He sent their prophets to lead them back to Yahweh; these put the case against them, but they would not listen.
Vrs20 The spirit of God then invested Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood up before the people and said, ‘God says this, “Why transgress Yahweh’s commands to your certain ruin? For if you abandon Yahweh, he will abandon you.”
Vrs21 They then plotted against him and, at the king’s order, stoned him in the court of the Temple of Yahweh.
Vrs22 Thus King Joash, forgetful of the devotion which Jehoiada father of Zechariah had displayed on his behalf, murdered his son, who cried out as he died, ‘Yahweh will see this and avenge it!’
Vrs23 At the turn of the year, the Aramaean army made war on Joash. When they reached Judah and Jerusalem, they massacred all the nation’s government officials and sent all their booty to the king of Damascus.
Vrs24 Although the invading Aramaean army was only a small body of men, Yahweh allowed them to defeat a very large army because they had abandoned Yahweh, God of their ancestors; thus they executed judgement on Joash. After they had retired — for they left him seriously wounded–
Vrs25 his own retainers plotted against him to avenge the blood of the son of Jehoiada the priest and murdered him in his bed. When he died he was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 89:4-5, 29-30, 31-32, 33-34
Vrs4 I have made your dynasty firm for ever, built your throne stable age after age.
Vrs5 The heavens praise your wonders, Yahweh, your constancy in the gathering of your faithful.
Vrs29 I have established his dynasty for ever, his throne to be as lasting as the heavens.
Vrs30 ‘Should his descendants desert my law, and not keep to my rulings,
Vrs31 should they violate my statutes, and not observe my commandments,
Vrs32 ‘then I shall punish their offences with the rod, their guilt with the whip,
Vrs33 but I shall never withdraw from him my faithful love, I shall not belie my constancy.
Vrs34 ‘I shall not violate my covenant, I shall not withdraw the word once spoken.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 6:24-34
Vrs24 ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.
Vrs25 ‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear. Surely life is more than food, and the body more than clothing!
Vrs26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are?
Vrs27 Can any of you, however much you worry, add one single cubit to your span of life?
Vrs28 And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin;
Vrs29 yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these.
Vrs30 Now if that is how God clothes the wild flowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you who have so little faith?
Vrs31 So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?”
Vrs32 It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all.
Vrs33 Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well.
Vrs34 So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’
Theme: Why are you anxious?
What does the expression “serving two masters” and “being anxious” have in common? They both have the same root problem – being divided within oneself. The root word for “anxiety” literally means “being of two minds.” An anxious person is often “tossed to and fro” and paralyzed by fear, indecision, and insecurity. Fear of some bad outcome cripples those afflicted with anxiety. It’s also the case with someone who wants to live in two opposing kingdoms – God’s kingdom of light, truth, and goodness or Satan’s kingdom of darkness, sin, and deception – following God’s standards and way of happiness or following the world’s standards of success and happiness.
Who is the master in charge of your life? Our “master” is whatever governs our thought-life, shapes our ideals, and controls the desires of our heart and the values we choose to live by. We can be ruled by many different things – the love of money and possessions, the power of position and prestige, the glamor of wealth and fame, and the driving force of unruly passions, harmful desires, and addictive cravings. Ultimately the choice of who is our master boils down to two: God or “mammon”. What is mammon? “Mammon” stands for “material wealth” or “possessions” or whatever tends to control our appetites and desires.
There is one master alone who has the power to set us free from slavery to sin, fear, pride, and greed, and a host of other hurtful desires. That master is the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can save us from all that would keep us bound up in fear and anxiety. Jesus used an illustration from nature – the birds and the flowers – to show how God provides for his creatures in the natural order of his creation. God provides ample food, water, light, and heat to sustain all that lives and breathes. How much more can we, who are created in the very image and likeness of God, expect our heavenly Father and creator to sustain not only our physical bodies, but our mind, heart, and soul as well? God our Father is utterly reliable because it is his nature to love, heal, forgive, and make whole again.
Jesus taught his disciples to pray with confidence to their heavenly Father: Give us this day our daily bread. What is bread, but the very staple of life and symbol of all that we need to live and grow. Anxiety is neither helpful nor necessary. It robs us of faith and confidence in God’s help and it saps our energy for doing good. Jesus admonishes his followers to put away anxiety and preoccupation with material things and instead to seek first the things of God – his kingdom and righteousness. Anxiety robs the heart of trust in the mercy and goodness of God and in his loving care for us. God knows our needs even before we ask and he gives generously to those who trust in him. Who is your master – God or mammon?
“Lord Jesus, free me from needless worries and help me to put my trust in you. May my first and only concern be for your glory and your kingdom of peace and righteousness. Help me to live each day and moment with trust and gratitude for your providential care for me.”