We are reminded by today’s readings to avoid unnecessary worries by putting our trust in the love and providential care of a loving and merciful God, and then living each day’s life as it comes, doing His will and realizing His presence within us and others. Today’s first reading begins with God’s rhetorical question, “Can a mother forget her infant? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you.” This is one of the most touching expressions of God’s love in the Bible. His love is unfailing and He will never forget us. Aside from reminding us that our ultimate goal and master is God, not material possessions, the gospel tells us to avoid unnecessary worries. Worry is a pagan or an irreligious attitude of those who don’t believe in a loving and provident God. Worry won’t change anything and robs us of our peace of mind. If God cares for lowly creatures like plants and birds, how much more will He care for us, who are much more precious than all of these?
The Scribes and Pharisees emphasize the external and material observance of the Law, so Jesus urges His listeners to go beyond such inadequate observance because it represents, in a sense, a conversion of the hands and not of the heart. This ideal reminds us that external religious observance, though certainly important, will never suffice to make us authentic followers of Christ. It is relatively easy to observe rituals and to affirm doctrines, but such observance can easily co-exist with an interior attitude that is impure, insincere, unloving and hypocritical. Jesus gives two examples of how a merely external observance falls short of the ideal offered by Him. In the case of murder, He points out that it is not just the act that is reprehensible but that the sin is present already in the hatred that often leads to murder. In a similar manner, viewing another person as a sexual object is so demeaning that it is already a serious sin even if it does not actually lead to adultery. Our motives, attitudes, dispositions and inclinations are then very important.