Romans 8. 18 – 25

Matthew 6. 25 – 34

Fr Alex


I have to be honest and say I’ve always found this Gospel reading a little difficult.  Jesus simply says, ‘don’t worry’ – but it’s not all that helpful, is it.

It’s like when you’re in a rage and someone tells you to ‘calm down.’  You know you need to calm down, but that’s not going to help!

It would be wonderful simply not to worry about the things of life.  But we do.  So why does Jesus make it sound so simple?

Well we have to take this passage in the context of what Jesus has already said at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount.

As I said last week, his sermon begins with the Beatitudes – showing his followers the kind of people they should be.  He then teaches them to be like the salt of the earth and the light of the world, which was last week’s Gospel passage – they should shine out with this new way of life.

He then gives them all sorts of detailed instructions about how they should live with one another, how they should pray, how they should give to charity, and so on.

And then he simply tells them not to worry. 

Because if they really are people who ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness,’ if they really are ‘peacemakers’ and ‘poor in spirit…’

And if they really live this new life so fully that they’re simply irresistible to others – like salt bringing out the flavour of food, or like a beacon on a hill, guiding others to the light…

If they do all that, then truly they won’t need to worry.  This is what awaits those who follow Jesus – release from the cares and worries of the world.  “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [you need in life] will be given to you as well.”

What Jesus is describing is the process of sanctification – the work of modelling our lives after his.

We’re hearing all this now because this is what we’ll focus on particularly in Lent, which is just 10 days away.  It’s the work of a lifetime, of course.  But Lent is the time when we take stock of where we are on this journey of sanctification, and notice where we might be falling short.

But in today’s Gospel Jesus doesn’t just reserve this peace and contentment for those who’ve got it all sorted.  This freedom from worry is something we can enjoy right now.  So I come back to my first question… how can we do it?

There’s a lovely book we used to read as children called ‘Herbert and Harry,’ by Pamela Allen.

There were two brothers, fishermen, named Herbert and Harry – they lived together in the same house, dug in the same field, and fished from the same boat.

One day they were fishing and hauled up a great treasure chest in their net.  Each brother claimed the prize, and in their fight, Herbert pushed Harry out of the boat, and into the water.

Harry swam to the shore and home.  But Herbert rowed as fast and as far as he could, till he and his treasure were safe.

But Herbert can’t sleep – what if someone finds his treasure?  So he carries it high up a mountain, where he digs a tunnel and buries it deep within.  He sets up walls and battlements, and makes weapons for himself.

Many years pass, until Herbert and Harry are very old men.  The book ends with two contrasting pictures: Herbert still guards the treasure in his fort on top of the highest mountain in the land.  But still, he cannot sleep.

Harry sits on a couch at home reading a book to his grandchildren.  And Harry, who had no treasure, has always been able to sleep soundly.

A chest of treasure, that at first seemed like such a blessing to Herbert, became a curse: something to be held on to at all costs.  It imprisoned him on that tall mountain.

But Harry, in giving up the worldly treasure, was set free to discover the blessing of true joy and contentment for himself.

If we put all our care and concern into the things of this world – money, status, whatever it is – our happiness and contentment in them will only ever be temporary.  At some point they will run out, or be taken away from us.

But God’s love and God’s way are not temporary, they are infinite.  His love never runs out or dries up.  Nothing at all – not even death – can separate us from it.

If we make living God’s way our sole concern and care, then all that we hoped the things of this world would give us – happiness, security, safety – we will find that, and more, in him.  And it will be everlasting.

For Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

May we set our hearts on Christ and his kingdom, now and always.  Amen.