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Rock, Salvation, Stronghold: A Reflection for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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by Stephen Bevans, SVD | February 23, 2017

ROCK, SALVATION, STRONGHOLD…
A Reflection for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 26, 2017: Isaiah 49:14-15; Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7, 8-9; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34

There are several ways to avoid making the big decisions in our lives. On the one hand we  “hedge our bets.” Yes, we want to answer God’s call, but we also want to make sure that if that is too difficult we can get out of our commitment. Or we can procrastinate—I’ll wait a little longer to propose to my girlfriend, or to enter grad school, or to apply for the seminary or a religious order. We have a tendency to want it both ways.

What Jesus says in today’s gospel, though, is that we can’t. Neither of these strategies is a good one—you can’t serve two masters! Ultimately we have to choose. In the end, not to choose is really to choose—or drift into a dead end.

What Jesus also says, however, is that if we do choose what we know in our heart is the better choice, the one that is not about ourselves but about service and giving and relationship, things will take care of themselves. This is because choosing this way to live our lives is to choose the “kingdom of God.” If we choose the kingdom, all the ways we try to hedge our bets or try to hold on to—food, drink, clothing, security, happiness, freedom—will be ours as well.

This is Jesus’ claim, and it’s a pretty radical one. It’s also right at the heart of the gospel. If we give, we receive; if we lose ourselves we find ourselves, if we die we live. Don’t hedge your bets. Don’t drift. Don’t hold on to certainty. Take the plunge. Take the risk. You cannot serve God and mammon—in other words, anything less than God. So serve God.

Yes, serving God is a risk. But our readings today assure us that it is a risk well worth taking. Why? Because God is absolutely reliable, absolutely on our side. Because in the words of the great theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, “God’s cause is the human cause.” Amazingly, God is less interested in God’s self than God is in us, and all creatures. That’s what it means to be God.

Isaiah says this more poetically and powerfully: even if a mother would forget her child, God could never forget us. The responsorial psalm continues the poetry: “only in God is my soul at rest”; God alone is my rock, my salvation, my stronghold, my safety, my glory, my strength, my refuge. Trust in God at all times!

Indeed, as Jesus teaches in the gospel reading, God is totally trustworthy. We don’t need to worry about our life, or our daily needs. If God takes care of the birds in the sky, or lavishes beauty on simple wildflowers, we have nothing at all to worry about.

Should I get married? Should I take that new, challenging job? Should I apply to law school? Should I get more involved in my parish? Should I go on that “come and see” weekend? Should I take out a loan to study theology? All these are big questions, and big risks. But if we don’t take the risk, we’ll never know. We can’t serve two masters. We can’t have certainty and take risks at the same time. But we have a God who will never forget us, who takes care of little birds, the tiniest wildflowers, the most common blades of grass. So take the risk. Take the plunge. Seek first the kingdom of God.

 

Image: rocks by Stiller Beobachter, found on Flicker under a Creative Commons License.

Author information Stephen Bevans, SVD

Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture
S.T.B., S.T.L., Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; M.A., Ph.D., University of Notre Dame; Study: University of Cambridge

Steve Bevans is a priest in the missionary congregation of the Society of the Divine Word and Louis J. Luzbetak, SVD, Professor Emeritus of Mission and Culture.

After completing his Licentiate in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1972, he served as a missionary to the Philippines until 1981. In 1986 he received a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and has taught at CTU since that time, officially retiring from the faculty in 2015.

He is the author or co-author of six books and editor or co-editor of eleven, including Models of Contextual Theology (2002), Constants in Context: A Theology of Mission for Today (2004), and An Introduction to Theology in Global Perspective (2009). In 2013, he edited A Century of Catholic Mission, and, in 2015, with Cathy Ross, Mission on the Road to Emmaus: Constants, Context, and Prophetic Dialogue.

He is a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission on World Mission and Evangelism.

sbevans@ctu.edu


Books written by Steve Bevans

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