8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Today’s readings remind us that God has not only created us, but he wants to help us to grow and to thrive in a way that he has envisioned for us. This concern and care of God for his creation, big and small, is called divine Providence, and we, as creatures gifted with freedom and responsibility, can not only benefit from God’s Providence, but also help him usher creation toward the perfection that he desires for all his creatures, big and small.

In today’s First Reading we’re reminded that God’s care and concern for us goes beyond the care and concern of the creature who represents one of the greatest blessings of Providence in our lives: our mothers. Mother’s Day is rightly one of the biggest days we celebrate, sometimes overshadowing even Father’s Day. The bond between mother and child is so strong that newborn children need physical contact with their mothers in order to ensure later development. Every one of us spent our first years of life defenseless and completely dependent on our mother. Yet God’s love and concern goes beyond even the maternal: he enabled us to exist and sustains us in our existence. He created us, and our parents wouldn’t have been able to bring us unto the world without him. He wants our happiness as much as our parents and, as Isaiah reminds us, even if our parents were to forget us, God will never forget.

In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that our belief in Providence and our efforts to help it along will be judged by God. Paul describes himself as a servant of Christ and a steward of God’s mysteries. A servant is not an owner, and despite our mortgages and deeds and pink slips we’re ultimately accountable to the Owner-in-chief regarding how we’ve used the possessions with which he has blessed us. A steward is entrusted with the care of something and trust is essential in a steward. God wants us to cooperate in his plan of Divine Providence: “God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures’ cooperation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God’s greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of cooperating in the accomplishment of his plan” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 306).

In today’s Gospel Our Lord directs our attention to the signs of God’s Providence in the present in order to not worry about the future. He could have provided for the oxygen we need to breathe by creating lots of molds and fungi, ugly green splotches, but instead he created magnificent trees, flowers and meadows that receive the sun and rain they need to grow and fulfill their purpose in the grand scheme of things in a beautiful way. Thinking about the future can be a source of anxiety and uncertainty if we lose sight of the signs around us every day of how God has created all things to be good and arranges them to help them achieve good ends and often in a beautiful way. He knows what we need before we even ask. He has also traced out a path to goodness and beauty for our lives, but, unlike plants and animals, he has given us the gift of freedom and responsibility for our actions. We can work with him to help goodness and beauty grow and endure in a lasting way: not just the necessary needs of life that people sometimes worry about too much, but the sum of all noble dreams and aspirations in God’s loving and saving plan that he calls his Kingdom. Goodness and beauty for humanity are justice and love for all who choose to welcome them and strive for them in their lives.

Let’s ask Our Lord today to help us get with the program. His program.

Readings: Isaiah 49:14–15; Psalm 62:2–3, 6–9; 1 Corinthians 4:1–5; Matthew 6:24–34. See also 11th Week in Ordinary Time, Saturday.