What's Most Important
Opening Question: Has someone ever hurt your feelings? What happened?
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Everyone should think of us as Christ's assistants and the managers of God's mysteries. After all, the one thing we want in a manager is trustworthiness.
I really don't care if you or any human court judges me. In fact, I don't judge myself because I don't think I've done anything wrong. But if I have, the One who ultimately judging me is the Lord. So, don't judge anyone until the time is right, when the Lord returns. He will shine a light on everything done in the dark. He will clearly show what people think. Then, God will praise everyone who is faithful.
Lance was a shy, sensitive boy who had a real love for books. He would lose himself in a pirate novel or mystery for an entire weekend. In fact he loved the end of the week so he could start a new novel. He hated Sunday nights when he would finish a book.
Of course, Lance was an excellent student, but was not good at sports. At lunch and recess, he was always the last to be chosen for a team and, many times, his classmates made fun of him. Those remarks hurt Lance's feelings.
One day, a new kid moved down the street from Lance. His name was Chuck. Out of curiosity, Lance worked up the courage to introduce himself to Chuck.
"Hi, I'm Lance.'
"I'm Chuck." Chuck pulled a basketball from a box at the end of the garage, closed the garage door and shot the ball toward the hoop above the garage door. He sank the shot. "You want to shoot some baskets?"
"No, I was on my way home."
"Lance, what do you have under your arm?"
'Just a novel I'm going to read.' Lance forgot about the book, but Chuck's comment made him want to hide.
"What is it?"
"Chuck, I'm not sure you'd be interested in it."
Chuck squinted at the title under Lance's arm. "Is that 'Pirates from the Deep,' the latest Captain Howard novel?"
Lance relaxed his shoulders. "Yeah, it is."
"Where did you get it? I've been looking for it even before we moved. I loved the last book, 'The Lost Cove.'"
"Would you like to borrow it when I'm done?"
Chuck"s eyes light up. "Would I? That would be great!" Chuck smiled, turned and made another shot. All net. "Come on, Lance, shoot some hoops with me."
Lance looked down at the ground. "I"m not very good at sports."
"You get teased a lot at school, Lance?"
"Yeah." Lanced looked at his book.
"Who cares what those kids say. Come on, I"ll show you a few moves that"ll surprise them the next time you play."
Sometimes, people aren't nice. They judge you. And sometimes, we"re tempted to judge them, in return. But, in the end, it doesn't matter what other people say. It only matters what God says.
St. Paul"s attitude is good advice. "I don"t care what you say about me. I only want to please God."
Bridging Question: What do people worry about the most?
Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus told his followers:
No one can serve two bosses at the same time. Either he will hate one boss and love the other. Or, he will become best friends with one and think nothing of the other. You cannot serve God and money.
So, listen to me. Don"t be anxious about need of your life, like what you"ll eat or drink, or like what clothes you"ll wear. Isn"t life worth more than food you eat and your body worth more than clothes you wear?
Look at the birds in the sky. They don"t plant and harvest their grain, then store it in barns. But your Father in heaven feeds them. Are you more important to God than those birds?
Which one of you can make your life a minute longer, just because you worry? Why are you so concerned about the clothes you wear today? Think about the flowers in the fields and how they grow. They don"t weave clothe to make clothes. But, even when he was at the height of his power, King Solomon could not put on finer and more colorful robes than what one of these flowers have. If God dresses up the grassy meadows today, then allows people to burn them in the furnace tomorrow, won"t he take the effort to dress you, you who trust him so little?
Don"t get upset and say, "What are we going to eat today" or "What are we going to drink today?" or "What clothes are we going to wear today?" People who don"t believe in God worry about that stuff. Your Father in heaven knows what you need. Search for God"s Kingdom first and his will. Food, drink and clothing will be given to you. Don"t get upset about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. The problems you face today are enough.
Gerald fingered his pencil while stared at this math book. "Tomorrow"s the big test and I still don"t understand half of this stuff." Gerald put the pencil down and glanced at the desk clock. It read "5:30 PM." He set the book aside and stood up to stretch. "Two hours. I"ve been studying for two hours and I still don"t understand it." He felt the palms of his hands; they were moist. His mouth was dry. His stomach felt tight. "The big test," he mumbled.
The phone rang. Gerald reached over and picked it up. "Hey, Jerry. You want to come over and play video games. I"ve got the new "Commander Alliance.""
"Sorry, Jack, I can"t. I"ve got to study for Mrs. Stewart"s math test."
"I hear she"s tough."
"Yeah. And if I don"t pull a "B" on this test, I"ll be grounded for the weekend."
"Wow, your parents are strict."
"Tell me about it, Jack. Good luck on the game. I"ve got to get back to studying."
Gerald"s mother peaked in the room. "I couldn"t help overhear your conversation with Jack. Why don"t you go over and play for an hour. Your Dad won"t get home until seven o"clock, so dinner will be late."
Gerald"s mouth hung open. "But, the test. If I don"t do good on the test tomorrow..."
"You"re worry too much. The test will be there when you take it. Until then, rest your brain. You can study after dinner."
"Yes, Gerald. But be back in time for dinner."
We can get worried about a lot of things. Money, clothes, food. It"s natural to worry about daily needs, but we can get too anxious, so anxious that these things become more important than God. There are times to say "No" to our worries, to take a break, to relax and put things is the bigger picture. More important, these are times to focus on God. That"s the advice of Jesus.
Final Question: How can you follow the advice of Jesus and still be a good student or athlete or family member?