Christian Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy

Ucebi - Ucebi

Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you oh men of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink , nor be of anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things; and you Father knows that you need them. Instead seek his kingdom and these things shall be yours as well. (Luke 12,22-52)

At the beginning of a new year we usually look towards the future in front of us and, in times like these, dominated by economic crisis and unemployment, it’s easy to be overtaken by fears and worries about our future and the future of our children. Who knows what this new year has in store for us!

Fear and worry predominate in the lives of the Italians and Berlusconi’s false optimism is less convincing than ever. As Christians, however, we have a word which reassures us. It is the word which Jesus proclaims to his church: “Do not fear, little flock, because it has pleased the Father to give you his kingdom”. God has not abandoned us in a panic on life’s sinking sands but, granting us access to the Kingdom in Christ Jesus, he enables us to rest on the one reality immune to crisis, fruit of his grace and love.

The economic  situation has its ups and downs but the love of God remains the same. As the apostle Paul writes: “I am persuaded that nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Rom 8,38-9). Now, somebody might object that the love of God doesn’t put food on our tables or pay our bills. What is this love we’re talking about? Doesn’t all this talk about the love of God lead to false optimism both politically and religiously?

To understand how God’s love works in our lives, let’s look at what Jesus says to his disciples about worry “Do not be anxious about your life what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on” Here we see that Jesus encourages his disciples to re-discover their priorities: life is worth more than food and the body more than clothing.

Re-discovering  life’s real priorities is a first step against fear for the morrow. A second step, which we can detect in Jesus’ teaching, is learning to distinguish the means from the ends. Eating and clothing ourselves are only means for the real end: living our life. It might be stating the obvious, but if we think about how much food is wasted over the festive period then it might pay us now and then to remember what are the means and what the ends of life. Food is a means which sustains our life, clothing a means of protecting the body.

Over the last ten years many people have lived wasting both food and clothes to the point that a wealth of consumer goods is considered a goal to be reached and not  a means of survival. For many people, then, the present economic crisis has to do with means and not ends. In other words, our life is not under threat as we have both clothes and food but it is the wealth of consumer goods that the crisis threatens.

No more waste, then, as we’re forced by circumstances to live more soberly. For many of us this means giving up the superfluous and concentrating on what is really necessary. If we knew how to distinguish between what is necessary and what is superfluous, then we would save ourselves a lot of useless worries! Worry for the morrow is a serious business when the necessities of life themselves are threatened, when jobs are lost and we have to rely on our families for support or go into debt. It’s normal that in such cases we begin to worry!

Brothers and sisters, if we are overcome by worry for ourselves or our offspring, God does not abandon us in our fear but comes, with his powerful Word, to encourage us so that with his help we are able to manage in the situation. The word which the Lord gives us is the same word which Jesus said to his disciples in a simple but effective way: “Consider the ravens, they neither sow nor reap and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds”. In this way Jesus reassures his disciples reminding them that God never abandons his children because they are worth more than any other creature in the world. The Lord himself promises that he will be at our side sustaining us and promising that we will lack nothing for a life lived with dignity.

God’s love, then is not a spiritual sentiment with no grounding in reality but is incarnate in real life with all its material needs. God knows our needs and promises that we will not lack the minimum in the way of food and clothes. If we cling to this promise then we will be able to face our worries and not be overcome by them.

Sisters and bothers, at the beginning of this new year, God calls us to entrust ourselves to him and to confide in his loving kindness. He knows all our troubles, every fear and worry and he is not indifferent towards them. He is by our side waiting for us to entrust our concerns to him. Let us begin 2010 by putting our faith in God knowing that worrying about things does not solve our problems and, as Jesus says, cannot even add an hour  to the length of his life.

In other words, it’s not by despairing that our situation will improve but only by putting our faith in the Lord as Isaiah says “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40,31) Only God can gives us what we need to face our crises and emerge from them strengthened. We really need this strength which is born is us when we trust in the Lord entrusting to him our lives and our tomorrow.

May God come to strengthen us, giving courage to the discouraged, faith to the disappointed, hope to the despairing, perspective to the lost, peace and serenity to the troubled.

In conclusion, God exhorts us always and every way to seek the Kingdom of God above everything else. We look for it because it has already been given to us! Through Jesus Christ God has already opened the doors of the kingdom, inviting us to enter. Today, then, we are invited to seek the kingdom of God, welcoming it into one’s own life. The Kingdom which God in Christ gives us means repositioning our life under the Lordship of Christ so that he and not we rule over it guiding and protecting it in the light of his Word and in the power of the Spirit.

If God reigns in our lives, we will learn to live not worrying about what we don’t have but being grateful for what we do have. Everything we have will be lived as a gift which comes from our merciful Lord and we will learn to rejoice over the little things rather than worrying about what we don’t yet have.

Brothers and sisters, our Heavenly father knows what we need, so let us put our trust in him so that we can live the year which face us believing that he will uphold us in times of plenty and in times of scarcity because God’s love consists not in empty words but in a Word incarnate in Christ Jesus.

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