19th Week OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
Everyday during lunch at Notre Dame Seminary, the president of the Seminarian Association stands to deliver the day's announcements. When he finishes his list, he shouts, “God will provide!” The rest of us shout back, “Deus providebit!” God will provide. He will and He does. Precisely how He chooses to provide is often a surprise. A Big Surprise. But that's just part of the fun of being a follower of Christ. Take the strange episode we just heard from Matthew. Jesus and Peter are exempted from paying the Temple tax. In order not to offend either the Temple or the Empire, Jesus tells Peter to pay the tax anyway. Where will the money come from? Jesus tells Peter to go fishing. The fish he catches will have twice the amount of the tax in its mouth. God will provide. Now, Peter might have imagined any number of ways that Jesus could've produced the money for the tax bill. But I seriously doubt that he expected to find the coins in the mouth of a fish. Faith gives us every reason to believe that our loving God will give us all that we need to survive and even thrive. But faith cannot help us to know how these gifts will appear.
What faith can help us do is to rely on God's providence; that is, trusting in God's promises is the best way we have for living day-to-day. I know it sounds risky. Even irresponsible. But think about it: what's the alternative? Worrying about all the things we cannot possibly control? Living in a state of constant anxiety over every variable, every possible thing that can go wrong? That's not faith. That's the opposite of faith. In fact, it might be the height of pride for me to believe that I can control much beyond my own behavior. However, it's too easy a thing to say “Let Go and Let God.” He's not going to take over and manipulate us like puppets, relieving us of any and all responsibility. What we do is receive God's gifts. That's our job. God provides. We receive. And we put those good gifts to work for His glory. Unfortunately, sin prevents us from receiving all that God always has to give us. Instead of relying on His providence, we worry. We fret and wring our hands. None of which leads us to receive what's ours as heirs to the Kingdom. We are free men and women in Christ, free to ask, free to receive, free to give God thanks and praise for His generosity. Let the Devil worry. You, you go fishing.
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