• Life of Martyr Nectan of Hartland
  • Gospel Reading
  • In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Right at the center of the teaching of our Lord during His earthly ministry is the final verse of this morning’s Gospel—“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This gives us a framework to live our lives in—a framework that really is given from the beginning, in the Garden to Adam and Eve. The questions that so bother people today, what is the purpose of my life? Or, what am I to do today? What is the framework of human existence? Christ provides the answer, to “seek the kingdom of God.” What Christ calls us to is a radical departure from what has become the norm is our fallen world. At the creation of man, we sought the will of our Creator. We were given existence by God, so it’s only natural that God, the things of God, the will of God, be the central focus of our lives. We fulfill ourselves in realizing the purpose for our creation—communion with God. In caring for the pentacle of His creation (man), God created this entire world for us. So, the basic arrangement from the beginning was meant to be—seek the kingdom of God, and everything you need will be provided. This is the way that creation was designed to work. But we know from our own lives, and from the list of needless concerns and distractions that Christ enumerates in our Gospel lesson, our created purpose is not the one that most of us are concerned with. Instead of seeking first the kingdom, and allowing God to provide for all of our needs, our temptation is to be concerned primarily with providing for our material needs. In other words, doing exactly the opposite of what Christ teaches has become normal in our world, and sadly, normal even for most of us who identify ourselves as followers of Christ. And our main concerns are still exactly the things Christ mentions in the Sermon on the Mount. As a side note, the Sermon on the Mount begins in Chapter 5 of St. Matthew’s Gospel with the Beatitudes [Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn], and goes all the way through the end of Chapter 7; our reading this morning is from the end of Chapter 6, so about 2/3 of the way through the Sermon on the Mount. This is Christ’s basic teaching about what human life should be like. And the things Christ tells the people in about 30 AD not to fret over are the very things we still focus most of our life’s energy on today. What will I eat; what will I drink; what will I wear? “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Christ asks. Then He points to nature, and how wonderfully the created world is cared for by the Father, and Christ reminds the people that humanity is the crown of the creation. Won’t God care for us even better than He care for the plants and the animals? And the plants and animals have no worries—God provides all they need to exist. But instead of properly enjoying food for our nourishment, and using clothing as a covering for our weak bodies to protect us from the elements, we become servants of the things created for our use. We worry constantly about being able to give ourselves the food that we want and the clothes that we want, instead of being satisfied with what God provides. We lower human existence to seeking after the latest fad, or the thing we find attractive or desirable, the thing we want. But life is more than the food we enjoy; the body is more than how the clothing we wear looks. And not only do we continue to be concerned with things that Christ says specifically “Do not worry about this,” we spend our time seeking after things that are totally worthless. At least clothing and food have a basic use. What use is a video game, or a big screen TV? What use is a bigger, or nicer, or simply a different car? Or jewelry or any of the other things we “need” to make our life complete? We spend so much of our life’s effort seeking after how to provide ourselves with things that in reality are of absolutely no significance. It’s no wonder we don’t have time to seek the kingdom of God. All of our energy goes into seeking the things that fulfill our flesh. As a result of sin in the world, the natural order of things is flipped on its head. And the possessions of a man become his master. As Christ says near the beginning of our Gospel—“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” (Matthew 7:24) Christ clearly says that we cannot seek the kingdom of God, and the things of this world. And the very deepest irony in this conversation is in Christ’s promise—“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 7:33) All these things. All the things we need for daily life on this earth will be provided. Of course, this doesn’t mean the things I want—Your heavenly Father knows all the things you need, Christ says (paraphrase v32). Seek first the kingdom of God, because it’s all that really matters. What is this kingdom of God? “The kingdom of God is within you,” Christ says. We aren’t seeking Heaven. Christ doesn’t say seek eternal blessedness and life in the Heavenly Kingdom with God the Father after you die. He says seek the kingdom of God now. God’s kingdom is His life, His holiness, His way, His will, His Word, His way. Seeking the kingdom of God means seeking only to do the will of God, no more and no less, in everything we do at every moment of our lives. This is seeking the Kingdom of God. And in the ultimate dramatic irony, the fullness of the kingdom of God is the fullness of the life on this earth. Living God’s will is our fulfillment as human beings. But what a radical change this requires in our lives! Following Christ is not as simple as adding a prayer rule, coming to Church, and being nice to others. It is seeking the kingdom of God in all things. And when Christ says, “Seek first the kingdom of God,” and never mentions anything else that we should seek. We seek first and exclusively the kingdom of God. And then everything we need, as God knows, will be provided. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!