Homilies | Posted 01.03.2017

“The Birds of the air: your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26) Fr. Twist Homily 25.02.17

“The Birds of the air: your heavenly Father feeds them.”  (Matthew 6:26)

The great Indian holy man Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite saying taken from a sacred Hindu book was:  “All this world must be pervaded by a Lord; renounce it, and enjoy it.”   It expressed his whole philosophy of life, that people get sucked into the desire for things, but lose sight of the wonderful being who creates and sustains them.    For Gandhi the great fault of modern civilisation was consumerism, what he called ‘manufactured want’.   Entrepreneurs need people to buy their factory produced goods, so they keep persuading everyone that they must have this, that and the other, or they will sink in misery.  Then everyday life degenerates into a battle to grab ever more things, many quite unnecessary, with the false promise that all this junk will bring us happiness.   As Gandhi realised, it is the perception of what lies beyond, the awareness of the Lord of the world, that we really need.   “All this world must be pervaded by a Lord, renounce it and enjoy it.”

Saint Augustine of Carthage gained the same insight late in life.   He had desperately sought happiness in the stuff around him, but always found himself dis-satisfied.  As he later wrote: “Unlovely, I rushed heedlessly among the lovely things you had made.  These things kept me far from you; even though they were not at all unless they were in you.”   It is the ability to see that God pervades and animates all that surrounds us that enables us to appreciate our world properly, as an environment to be reverenced, filled with creatures that lead us to the creator, and deriving their worth from Him.

It is sometimes thought that to be an atheist or to believe in God boils down to pretty much the same thing when it comes to practical matters.   But this is a mistake.  An atheist must stake all his hopes on what is passing: however wonderful things are, they fade with time.  The person who hopes that fast cars, expensive yachts, and glorious mansions will bring happiness, is relying on things that cannot endure.   And even if the luxuries accumulated live on, the owner must himself die and leave them.  Trusting only in what our eyes can see leads to disappointment.

It was the great prophet Moses who had what could be called a ‘hands-on’ experience of God’s presence in our world, when he came across a bush in the desert that was on fire but never got burnt up.  Moses saw that within that bush lay   a mysterious creative power sustaining it with a life-giving power.  Jesus is urging us in His Sermon on the Mount to accept that God is there nourishing and looking after all of His creation.  When we see and accept this we are at peace, because we now grasp that all the things arounds us, and ourselves as well, are being cared for by the one who made us all.