Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Homilies

"Seek First the Kingdom: Making God the Center of Our Lives, the True Source of Our Happiness"
Homily for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
February 27, 2011
Year A

Often times in our lives we express our desire for happiness. Surely it goes without saying that we all desire to be happy in life but we tend to fall short in really understanding what can bring us true happiness. What is this happiness for which we long? It is defined as feeling pleasure, being satisfied, fortunate, content, joyful, pleased, glad, blissful, and the list goes on. At times we say that if I can just get the newest, most updated piece software that’s out there to make my life a little easier, then I will be happy. Other times we say, if I just was able to get a new car to get me from here to there without wondering if I’ll make it to work/home/the gym, etc, then I will be happy. But can these things bring true and lasting happiness? Certainly there is the feeling of an immediate joy but once that new piece of software is outdated, then we’re not too happy. Once the new car starts to have problems that joy fades. And a real danger lies in turning to more serious outlets in search for happiness – such as alcohol, drugs, and others. True and lasting happiness – eternal happiness comes from only one source – it comes from God.

God is the real source of happiness because there is no limit to His love and goodness. His love never wears out, never fades, never disappoints – He is constant. This comes across beautifully in our First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is addressing the Israelites who have been conquered, captured, and forced into exile in Babylon, the world superpower of the sixth century B.C. The exiles were a nation on the verge of annihilation. They had no king, no leader, no army - from a natural, human point of view, there was no hope of deliverance. Amid that natural hopelessness, Isaiah reminds them to look at their plight from a supernatural, divine point of view: through the prophet God says to them, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” He calls to mind the most powerful natural bond in human experience, the love of a mother for her child. But then acknowledges that in this fallen world even that love can fail. It's as if He had in mind our own period of history, when the culture of death has convinced millions and millions of mothers to forget the children in their wombs. Yes, in a sinful world, in a world full of lies, selfishness, and greed, tragically and sadly, even a mother's love can fail. In other words, nothing merely natural or material, nothing of this world can give us the lasting happiness that we so desire. Only God's love and goodness will never fail, and so only He can fulfill our deepest longings. Only God can say to our hearts: “I will never forget you.”

This is why Jesus exhorts us in the Gospel to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” What He is trying to point out is that having two masters divides one’s loyalty. When we pursue or try to pursue earthly, material treasures only, we will inevitably neglect our relationship with God. Jesus explains this point with two Jewish idioms: “he will either hate one and love the other” does not mean that the servant loves only the one master and has an emotional hatred toward the other. The word ‘love’ in this phrase is meant more as a choosing or a prioritizing and ‘hate’ refers to an absence of commitment to the other. The second idiom has a similar meaning. Jesus states: “be devoted to one and despise the other” really means to pay attention to one and forget the other. Both expressions serve to tell us that when our pursuit for true happiness centers only on earthly goods, only on the here and now, we will naturally neglect our supernatural destiny, we will cast aside our service to God and therefore our love for Him will not be sincere or wholehearted.

What then is His advice? He tells His listeners and us not to worry. The term ‘worry’ is used to denote an excessive concern or anxiety that monopolizes the intentions of the heart. Here, He is not talking about the normal worries of everyday life – He means the excessive, the inordinate desire for material wealth. Certainly we worry about making enough money to support our families, we worry about our health and the health of family, relatives, and friends. These are natural concerns and when we invite God into these moments of worry they don’t seem to be as difficult to bear. He lifts the burden off our own shoulders and reminds us that if He cares enough to clothe the flowers of the field with such beauty, how much more then, will He care for our needs – the people He has created in His own image and likeness?

To seek first the Kingdom of God, then, really means to place God above all in our lives – to make Him our priority. To invite Him into every situation, every aspect of our lives and strive to carry out His divine plan for us, to seek to do His will – as we say in the Lord’s Prayer: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” And so first of all we turn to Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church and try to form our conscience so that we know what decisions to make in life that are in accord with His will and that will lead us to heaven. This will naturally lead to a more personal relationship with Him in our daily lives. It will propel us to personal prayer – privately and with our families. And it will lead to a true inner happiness that can only come from the source that never fades – God Himself.

May the gift of grace in this Eucharist help us to seek first God Himself, to seek true happiness, sanctity in our daily living, filling up each day with His love.


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield, MA


Return to multimedia home...

siervas_logo_color.jpg (14049 bytes)
Return to homepage:
This page is a work of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary