Only with God are our hearts at rest – 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time – March 2, 2014

Purpose: Our human experience is filled with reasons to be anxious and man’s search for meaning in worldly pleasures leaves him unsatisfied.  Only in surrendering our whole lives to God every day do we discover authentic human fulfillment. 

Readings: Isaiah 49: 14-15; Psalm 62; I Corinthians 4: 1-5; Mathew 6: 24-34.

One of my favorite spiritual axioms is the famous line from St. Augustine: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”  In a world where we observe much restlessness, and many failed searches for purpose in life, these few words zero in on the reality that we can never find fulfillment until we rest in God’s embrace. Human persons have, for a long time, looked for love in the wrong places, and attempted to create happiness by their own ingenuity.  Promiscuity, drugs, gambling, alcohol, and other forms of vice and addiction, are man’s search for something to fill up his emptiness. Responsibility and stress burden us, and we seek relief.  Soon, however, every one of us discovers that joy is not found at the bottom of a bottle, or in a fleeting moment of pleasure. The emptiness within man is a bottomless chasm that can only be filled with the divine. Man is made in God’s image, and nothing less than God is worthy of serving as man’s end or fulfillment.  Even the greatest of earthly loves are not things or events, but persons: beings capable of reciprocal love, which is itself a foretaste of the divine love we crave.  We will always be restless until we rest in the One who made us, and for whom we were made.  Evil will persist on earth as long as man chases after mirages, and counterfeit loves.  We will be empty until we allow God to fill us.

The bottom line, then, is to surrender.  In order to rest in God, now and in the life to come, a person has to divest himself of attachments to this present world, and its fading realities. Furthermore, one needs to overcome fear and anxiety in order to give to God the openness of our hearts, allowing him to come into our lives in a profound way.  Then, we will discover him leading, nourishing, and providing for us.  A recent television commercial creatively diagnosed “FOMOF”—“the Fear Of Missing Out on Football.”  That’s the real obstacle: people today don’t want to commit to God, and the Church, for fear they might miss out on something better that might come along.  They might lose something of themselves, or have to give up something fun.  But, that’s exactly the point: as Jesus gave up his life, so must we lay down our lives for him.  Jesus fulfills the whole ancient law as he mounts the Cross, and so provides us with the example of authentic love.  As he has loved us, so we must love.  Football is great to watch, but it will not bring us salvation!  Human persons are made for God; we need God’s love to be complete.

We cannot serve God while remaining a slave to the anxieties of the world: fashion, popularity, financial security.  Instead, the disciple of Christ knows the Good News that only in God is my soul at rest, and that our Heavenly Father knows all our needs, and will provide for them.  Our part is to strip away all that is not of God, and to use the things of this world in a healthy way, always devoted to seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  The Lord must be first in our lives if we are to enjoy prosperity.  Trying to provide for all our needs on our own will only lead to continued frustration.  We soon realize we cannot do everything on our own, and that we need to surrender and allow God to take over and direct our paths.  Serving two masters leads to inevitable failure.

Each morning, as your feet hit the floor, and you take the first steps toward the bathroom to begin getting ready for the day, make a morning offering.  Offer your life to God in total surrender.  Ask him to use you, each new day, for his purpose, trusting that he will provide for your needs.  Be not anxious about the days to come, but seek only to serve God faithfully today.  Hand over your fears and worries.  Rest in the Lord, and discover a peace that ends your restlessness.

Additional reading: CCC 2544-2550 / Surrender by: Father Larry Richards.