Mt 6:25-34, NABRE                                  Bryar Trent

Just one more step

Good morning.

I went with my family a few weeks ago to Mt Watatic. We were to embark on the same ritual we so often see throughout the Bible: to seek the solace of nature from the myriad woes and wants of the “real” world. I don’t know about you, but I have never been much of a hiker – let alone with a ten-month-old strapped to my back, my wife, and two dogs. With that said, I was curious to find that even with the hustle and bustle of the trail that both my wife and I had moments of peace and clarity during the two and half hour trek to the top and back.

Now, the thing about hiking, particularly up a mountain, is that you really have to watch your step. Nature can yield a bounty, but it is also fraught with danger. One misstep, one wrong placement of the foot among the twisted roots and jagged rocks, and you and your pack come tumbling down. So your whole focus is on your present footing and where you will plant your next step. Yesterday, today, tomorrow – bills and income – none of it mattered. Just the next step.

In today’s Gospel reading, the main theme can be summed up in the last few sentences: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Let’s set the scene: Jesus has just finished praying and seated himself in front of a crowd on a mountainside. He’s just given the Beatitudes and a reinterpretation of the Law given to Moses on Mt Sinai – the theological implications of which are life-altering. But then Jesus shifts his gaze toward money and God, and only serving one master. Then he begins with our reading today. That being sufficient for a day is good enough; God will take care of the rest. If God takes care of the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field, then how much more so will He care for his flock.

To be clear, Jesus is not advocating a carte blanche, throw caution to the wind style of living because “God will take care of the rest.” No, what Jesus is telling us here is to live in the present. To take one step at a time and let today be enough. To illustrate this point, my wife and I did not merely hop in our car and find a mountain to walk up. We carefully planned what we needed: food, water, equipment, etc. We still need to plan, we just don’t need to stress over things that are days, weeks, or years in advance. Let today be enough, and let God take care of the finer details.

Jesus, all throughout his teachings, constantly challenges the status quo of the religious interpretation of his day. We cannot forget that Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, or religious teacher, and that he would have been very well versed in the Jewish Oral law – later codified as the Talmud: canonical law and interpretation of past generations passed down to the next.

For example, there is an early Talmudic proverb that states, “Everyone who has a loaf in his basket, and says, ‘what will I eat tomorrow?’ is one of little faith.”[1] But Jesus urges, “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?” (v. 25).

You see, Jesus is taking the Talmudic proverb and extending it further. The proverb states followers who have enough today should not question tomorrow. But Jesus states that to even question having enough today is an act of too little Faith. The people of God are to have enough faith to never question whether the basket is full or empty. “Your heavenly Father knows [what you need]. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (v. 32-33).

There is another Talmudic proverb that states “Do not care for tomorrow, because you do not know what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps you will not be living tomorrow, and therefore will have spent your time worrying about a world that will not exist for you.”[2] And our Lord sees this proverb and raises it: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (v. 34). Essentially, the proverb states, ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow, because you might not be here;’ but Jesus states that we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. Instead, we should worry about today, about right now. And even then, ‘worry’ is too large a word, for God will take care of his flock today. And, if God will take care of his flock today, will he not do so tomorrow? Therefore, seek the kingdom of God today, and God will tend to his emissaries today and every day.

As we leave today. I would like for you to think of a time in your life when you leaned on God and were given just enough to see you through to the next step. When you were able to find your footing among the thistles and thorns, and focus only on where you were going to plant your next step.

(circle back to the hike) (noticing how much beauty outside of worry)

Prayers of the People: (kids start school)

Lord we thank you for today, for this morning, for this moment. Let us remember those who work on this Labor Day weekend, and those who would like to work but cannot. In this trying time when work is hard to come by, and often hard won once found, we remember those who toil on land, at sea, or in an office – whether that be at home or onsite. Lord, give us rest, as we find shelter under your wings. And Lord, give us peace from our worries, and give us the strength to find our next step. Heavenly Father, we know that you hear our prayers both said and unsaid this morning, and ask that you grant us pardon and blessing. And though we may not know it, we thank you for the greater plan you have in store for us. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for this wonderful day and for all of those here and those who could not be here. We thank you for this time we have together. We thank you for this extra time we have with family, either while working from home or temporarily out of work, it is this time with family that will hold us together. For your Love of us and our love of each other, we thank you for all you do. Let us now share our bounty as our Apostolic Fathers and Mothers did before us, giving the Spirit an opportunity to work through us and allow the Father and the Son to tend to their flock and allow us one more step. Amen.

Benediction:

May God’s mercy, grace, and peace be with you now and on every step of your journey. Amen.

[1] Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Hendrickson Publishers, 2014, pp 372, quoting Sot. 48b.

[2] Ibid. quoting Sahn. 100b (translation is mine).

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