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MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects priorities, worry, and lonliness .  What is our priority and why do we do what we do?  Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Matthew 6:24-34.  For Audio, “read more” below.  #GreatCatholicPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Integrated #Worry #Priority #Loneliness #Matthew #Messiah

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   3/2/2014 The 8th   Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Please pause this audio and read Matthew 6:24-34.

          There is no better life than a fully integrated life.

          Last summer, I arranged for my then fourteen year old daughter to attend a retreat modelled after the Cursillo retreat, but for young people. The person I drove to the retreat and the person I picked up were two different people. The one I picked up started praying every morning and every night. She still does. The one I picked up started asking us not to gossip as much as we did as a family. She is still keeping us on the path. The one I picked up started asking questions about how people make it without Jesus. She is still encouraging others to trust in the Lord during difficult times. This past Saturday, she attended her first team meeting to serve others so that they could have the same experience that she did.

          As we were driving to school on Monday, she was reflecting on her experience. She said that before she went on the retreat she never really understood the enthusiasm that people had for their faith until she heard a speaker on the retreat say, “You must make God your top priority. Not your second priority, but your first priority. All other things come after him. Your family, your job/career, your wants and needs, they all come after Father, Son and Holy Spirit as your priority.”

          Faith choices, praying, singing in Church, loving others even though they don’t love you, living a life of giving, all of these things, make sense only if the first priority is God. When we love God and place him first, the crazy notion of changing careers, changing how we do things, taking care of people the rest of the world finds repulsive, leaving everything, even riches, to serve the poor and needy, with God first, these all make sense.

          There is another “benefit” to having God first and it is what Jesus brings to us in the Gospel Lesson for this Sunday, the 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Here Jesus says something that sounds like an admonition: you can’t follow God and something else. We could take that as a negative: don’t follow something else. Yet, if you saw the post from one of my students about how frustrating it is to pick clothing that is in style for a woman who is not quite plus size, but is not quite 0-12 size. She put it quite simply, ‘I hate the fashion industry.’

          Although I like to look good and wear nice suits and ties, I can appreciate what she is saying. Yet, if we serve God first, we know that dressing in the finest is not the goal of life and we can relax about it. God will take care of us.

          If you are considering a career change because you feel called to do something more, then God becomes your riches and you don’t have to climb the corporate ladder anymore. For many, when they step off the corporate ladder, they have a sense of relief. The pressure is off to live a certain kind of life, now you can live your life, a life lived with the purpose of God.

          All of these things that are mentioned by Jesus are things that keep us from living a life enjoying God. All of these things create a mountain of responsibility that causes us to have to make ethical compromises at times. I distinctly remember thinking while I was unemployed: “If I didn’t live in the suburb of Chicago in which I lived and didn’t have this high of a mortgage, the pressure of unemployment wouldn’t be so severe.” It was severe. I could hardly breathe when I started to think of all the ‘mamon’ in my life. The house, the car, the material needs of my children, which really weren’t needs, but wants, all of it weighed on me so badly. In my darkest hour, I was encountered by my priest friend who said, “For the next twenty four hours, do you have everything you need?” Yes. I did. Then I realized that God was in control and he would take care of the next twenty four hours after that, and after that, and after that.

          All of these things in this world keep us from listening to God. God is talking, but can we put down the phones, tablets, ipod, ipads, gadgets and gidgets long enough to hear him? We often say, “God has abandoned me!” just like the people of Israel did after they were taken in to exile into Babylonia by Nebuchadnezzar. They lost everything, but then were able to focus on their identity. They were able to see that the power, the riches, the things that they wanted so much actually kept them from hearing God. Being in a place outside of where you are the majority often makes you keenly aware of what makes you pleasantly different. Being in a place where you have lost everything makes you keenly aware of what is truly important.

          When the Israelites were removed from their distractions, they heard this passage from Isaiah:

“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Says the Lord.

          It is the same as this which Jesus says in our passage for today:

“Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

          Lastly, all of these observations lead us another important reason to depend upon the Lord, to make God the first priority of our lives: to follow God can be lonely when you do right. I know my daughter felt alone without anyone with whom to share her faith. Public schools are lonely places for people of faith. It is way more acceptable to be without faith and scorn faith than to have faith and do what is right. The community my daughter found in her retreat team community has been wonderful. The Lord has provided strength through the ladies who have surrounded my daughter with love and affirmation.

          A good parish, that shares in the love of Jesus Christ should do the same. A good family that has God as the priority should do the same. A world with God as its priority should do the same. So, do you worry about your clothes? Do you worry about your food? Do you worry about your job, your status, your needs and desires? Why? You probably do because maybe for a moment, maybe as a routine, you have not made your relationship with Jesus Christ your priority. I invite you to recommit yourself to Jesus Christ right now. Amen? Amen.

This audio is under the copyright of MySpiritualAdvisor.com and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of MySpiritualAdvisor.com, LLC. MySpiritualAdvisor.com, 2014.