HOMILY FOR THE EIGHT SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
THEME: HAKUNA MATATA
FR GERALD M. MUSA
Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase for “no worries.” This phrase is important in this age of anxiety and depression. Apparently, technological advancement in a fast changing world has a double effect on modern people. It has made life much faster and comfortable, and also more sophisticated and complicated than ever.
In this age, people worry so much, not only about food and drinks but also about how to meet the many demands of modern life. In the ancient past the people of Israel were very worried about their life situation.
In the sixth century before Christ, they suffered defeat in the hands of the Babylonians. They were captured and suffered under the yoke of slavery.
Israel cried out to God in labour and pains of slavery complaining: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has abandoned me” (Isaiah 49:14).
TRUST IN MOMENTS OF ANXIETY?
Moments of worries and anxiety are moments of confusion when we attempt to seek for all kinds of solutions to be happy. During moments of anxiety we are tempted to either align or attach ourselves to the material world or to seek help from the spiritual world. Jesus warns against double loyalty when he says: “You cannot serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). The Psalmist calls for an undivided loyalty and trust in God when he prays: “Rest in God alone, my soul” (Psalm 62:6).
WORRIES ABOUT TOMORROW
We often find ourselves trapped in thoughts about tomorrow, the fear of tomorrow and the challenges of tomorrow. We worry mostly about the threat of ill health, financial security, job security, basic needs and essential commodities of life such as water, food, housing, clothing, etc.
Many of us lose sleep and suffer from insomnia as a result of these worries. Jesus points to the birds in the sky that do not acquire land, cultivate, or store food and yet the Heavenly Father feeds them daily. He calls us to learn from the flowers who do not work or spin, and yet not even King Solomon in his entire splendor and exquisite fashion was not as elegant as these flowers.
And so with a loud voice Jesus says: “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself” (Matthew 6:34). Jesus is very aware that the fear of tomorrow could lead to the evil of greed; fear of tomorrow could lead to chronic depression and anxiety; the worry of tomorrow could lead to loss of confidence and trust in God and the fear of tomorrow can make us lose the joy of the moment. In their anguish and pain, the people of Israel had lost hope of a better tomorrow and that is why God re-assured them that he cares. He asks: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even, should she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). Some people ask whether we should refer to God as a Father or as a Mother. God possesses the perfect qualities of a father and mother and so we can say that God is a father who loves like a mother. Indeed, He is the perfect father and the most loving mother.
PLANNING FOR TOMORROW:
There is a marked difference between worrying about tomorrow and planning for tomorrow. The first is a negative reaction and the other is positive and proactive. Planning for tomorrow is essential and as the saying goes if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Jesus does not forbid his followers to plan for tomorrow, but warns them about worry and anxiety over tomorrow.
It is important that we plan and work for a better tomorrow, knowing fully well that God is the sole master of the future and there are always contingencies and unforeseen circumstances, which God takes care of.
Several proverbs and wise expressions echo the Gospel message about cares for tomorrow. A Hausa proverb says, “Duk bakin da Allah ya tsaga, baya hanashi abinci” (Every mouth that God designs is never deprived of food).
An unknown author says: Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night; another says: “Do not be worried about tomorrow; for God is already there.”
And yet another says: “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” The famous Chinese poet and philosopher Lao Tzu says: If you are depressed you are living in the past; if you are anxious, you are living in the future; if you are at peace, you are living in the moment.” In Swahili the message of Jesus could be Hakuna Matata (no worries…).
8th Sunday of the Year A/ Isaiah 49:14-15; Matthew 6:24-34