If the commandments are our road map and being holy is our destination, then maybe this Sunday’s readings are intended to tell us what to pack for the trip. When I took my first airplane ride I packed far too many clothes (going to Arizona for a week — two suitcases was probably a bit of overkill). Today, as we look at being charged extra even for the overhead storage area, most of us have pared down our travel needs to the barest necessities. Sunday’s readings invite us to do the same thing, not just when we travel by plane but, more importantly, as we travel through life.
Is your suitcase stuffed with worry about your job? One parish I know offers a support group for people who are unemployed. The staff understands that people need to tell the story of how they lost their last job, but they don’t allow them to get stuck there. Instead, they encourage them to stop worrying and to trust that God has given them what they need to find another job. Then they discuss things like resume preparation and job interview skills, helping jobseekers to use their God-given talents rather than slipping into the depression to which worry so often leads.
Is your suitcase stuffed with worry about what we are to wear? When the Seattle Seahawks played the Denver Broncos in this year’s Super Bowl, T-shirt manufacturers had shirts made up for both teams. When the Seahawks won their shirts sold out while Broncos shirts sat on the shelves. One group offered to buy the shirts and ship them to children in a third world country but another group asked if, instead of worrying about what the children are to wear, it might not be better to sell or recycle the shirts locally and use the money for mosquito nets and medicines. What to do?
God promises to give us what we need. We’ve got the directions. We know where we’re supposed to be going. The question is, are we willing to let God pack our suitcase?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.