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Practicing Detachment

First Reading: 2 Chronicles 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada,
the princes of Judah came and paid homage to King Joash,
and the king then listened to them.
They forsook the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers,
and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols;
and because of this crime of theirs,
wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD,
the people would not listen to their warnings.
Then the Spirit of God possessed Zechariah,
son of Jehoiada the priest.
He took his stand above the people and said to them:
“God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands,
so that you cannot prosper?
Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.’”
But they conspired against him,
and at the king’s order they stoned him to death
in the court of the LORD’s temple.
Thus King Joash was unmindful of the devotion shown him
by Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, and slew his son.
And as Zechariah was dying, he said, AMay the LORD see and avenge.”

At the turn of the year a force of Arameans came up against Joash.
They invaded Judah and Jerusalem,
did away with all the princes of the people,
and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.
Though the Aramean force came with few men,
the LORD surrendered a very large force into their power,
because Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers.
So punishment was meted out to Joash.
After the Arameans had departed from him,
leaving him in grievous suffering,
his servants conspired against him
because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest.
He was buried in the City of David,
but not in the tombs of the kings.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89:4-5, 29-30, 31-32, 33-34

R. (29a) For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.
I will make his posterity endure forever
and his throne as the days of heaven.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“If his sons forsake my law
and walk not according to my ordinances,
If they violate my statutes
and keep not my commands.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.
“I will punish their crime with a rod
and their guilt with stripes.
Yet my mercy I will not take from him,
nor will I belie my faithfulness.”
R. For ever I will maintain my love for my servant.

Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

NAB

DEV_J18

I have a vivid memory of my dad reading this Gospel passage to me when I was about twelve years old. I was at the age where I was starting to care about my physical appearance. I was aware of what the styles were, and when I didn’t have them. I had been complaining to my parents about not having enough money to buy all the clothes that I wanted, wishing I could have the things that some of my peers had. My dad sat down on my bed, opened his beat-up old bible, and started to read,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry[.]”

As I listened to the words of the Gospel, hot tears streamed down my face. I realized I had been seeking things more than I had been seeking God.

Almost twenty years later, and I still struggle with materialism.

It’s not surprising. We live in a culture that is obsessed with having that latest and greatest. Ads for everything from clothes to kitchen gadgets are constantly hurled in our direction. If we’re not careful, it’s easy to fall into a trap of believing that material goods will make us better, happier, and more valuable.

I’ve tried a lot of different things over the years in an attempt to combat materialism—New Year’s resolutions to stop spending, giving up shopping for Lent, and donating bags and bags of my clothing to our church rummage sale. These tactics work for a little while, but eventually the desire to amass stuff rears its ugly head again.

That’s when I realize the problem is not the things; there will always be material needs. “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” The problem is my attachment to those things. Material goods are not bad, until they become an end in and of themselves. I am looking to those things to satisfy me. I am giving them a place in my heart that should be reserved for God.

What I need is to practice detachment. I need to direct my affections rightly, to separate myself from anything that hinders my pursuit of God, and to embrace a spirit of evangelical poverty. (Paraphrased from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2545)

“Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow.” (CCC 2547)

That detachment and abandonment requires faith. I need faith that God will provide for me. I need faith to stop trying to satisfy myself with things and let Him satisfy me.

Pray with me: sometimes my faith feels so small, Lord, so please give me a spirit of detachment and faith to seek You above all.

Anna Coyne is a wife, mother, musician, knitter, gardener, and convert to the Catholic faith.  Read more about her here.

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