June 22, 2019
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Theology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 370

2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Psalms 34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Matthew 6:24-34

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

What If I Have Trouble Getting Better?

I am familiar with Jesus’ repeated injunctions against wealth, and I typically associate these warnings with excessive wealth – the kind that the rich man refused to share with Lazarus, or the corrupt earnings the tax collector Zacchaeus promised to redistribute to the poor. But in this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not highlight the problem of disproportionate wealth. Rather, he reminds us that our basic material needs – for things like food, drink, and clothing – can so easily undergird undue desires for mammon. Whether rich or poor, we all want to ensure a secure future. It is these desires for control and security that lie at the root of so much anxiety, so much worry, and so much greed.

My family and I will soon return to the USA after a year living in Uganda. Twelve months ago, we were consumed with anxious questions. Where would we live? Where would our children go to school? How would teaching and research unfold? Would we bring the right supplies? Would our health hold up? These worries cost me so much sleep! What I’ve realized this year is that while preparation is always necessary, I am ultimately not the master of my own fate or the arbiter of my own future. This lesson came home to me on my first day of teaching last August. On my way to the local university, I made about five wrong turns and soon had no idea how to proceed. Calling out the window to a group of workers, I inquired on how to reach the main highway. Laughing, one called back, “Mzungu (white man), you are lost!” He then jumped in the passenger seat and directed me to the right road. In the meantime, a university colleague informed my students that I was delayed. When I arrived over an hour late – a first in my teaching career – I thought my students would be sullen. Instead, they inexplicably broke into applause. At that moment, I knew I wouldn’t be “in control” this year. Yet I also knew that I would be the recipient of unmerited grace. Like Paul, Thomas More, and John Fisher, I learned in my own small way that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

May each of us never forget that God – and our neighbors – are always ready to hop on board with us, guiding us forward on a path we only dimly see.

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