Anxiety and confidence. These are two masters because they can take control of our day, our heart rate, our mood, our way of seeing things. Anxiety runs us down one path. Confidence runs us down another. Anxiety says that things won’t work out. Confidence says that God’s got us. Anxiety enslaves and paralyzes. Confidence in God’s mercy frees and empowers. Anxiety pulls our head down and urges us to crawl inside ourselves. Confidence in the Lord lifts up our heart and draws us outside of ourselves to Our Lord and others.
These two masters—we cannot serve both. One we must hate. And by the word hate, I mean to turn away from, push down, ignore, and refuse to hear. The other we must love. And by the word love, I mean to embrace, internalize, and make the constant loop in our head.
Anxiety and confidence or faith in God. The two masters that Jesus speaks about in today’s Gospel.
Anxiety leads us to focus our thoughts on this world: bodily needs, self-preservation, acceptance by others, posturing.
Confidence in Christ leads us to understand that Our Father gives us all that we need to support this body and life; that He welcomes us as we are; and that He urges us to live outside ourselves, to live for another, and to live without being dominated by our passions: by pride, anger, lust, greed, envy, gluttony, and despair.
Despair. That’s the deadly sin that anxiety feeds. Despair. The deep-seated feeling that nothing matters, that nothing will improve, that we’re on our own and quickly sinking in the quicksand of life.
Jesus meets our despair and urges us to diligently, deliberately, daringly seek the kingdom of God. And His righteousness, His justice. A justice not that we must demand, but that He gives. A justice not about rights, but rooted in His mercy. A justice not for fleeting, momentary fixes about systems and others; but a justice that re-calibrates who we are, and urges us to love those whom we hate.
Seek the Kingdom of God. And His righteous justice.
That’s harder than it seems. For seeking the Lord, His kingdom, and His way of doing things requires that we devote our emotional, mental, and material resources toward one goal, one purpose. And seeking the Lord’s kingdom means that our fears, our desires, our family, our work, and anything else that claims our attention need to be a distant second. Nothing should stand in the way of attaining God’s kingdom.
Seeking God’s kingdom also means that we shift what ‘kingdom’ means. For we tend to locate the kingdom of God in the future, in a heavenly place, in the spiritual. When we do that, we are forgetting that the Kingdom of God is ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
The earthly manifestation and presence of the Kingdom of God is at Mass, in Private Confession and the other sacraments, and in our daily prayers. And that is what we are to seek. More than anything else—more than our anxiety, more than our convenience, more than our other things. To gather as Church, to hear the Lord’s Word in His temple, to worship the Lord in the beauty of the holiness of the saints and angels—that should be our priority, our aim, our life’s goal.
But seeking God’s kingdom doesn’t stop there. The grace we receive from Christ in His churchly kingdom transforms us—if we let it. The food of God’s own Body and Blood, the clothing of His righteousness—that lets us be royal priests, holy citizens, and people who are peculiar. Peculiar because we will not let anxiety master us. Peculiar because confidence and trust in Our Lord Jesus allows us to step out when we would rather step back. Peculiar because we are fueled not by the latest clickbait, but by the Holy Mysteries.
Seeking the kingdom of God, and the justice of His unfair mercy that He lavishes on us anxious people—seeking that relief, that respite, that rest—that is the master we need to chain ourselves to. For this master is really no master, but the Savior of ourselves, from ourselves.
13 September 2020