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Seek First

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’  or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’  For it is the gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)

The above saying of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was spoken to the His followers as a part of a larger teaching on many subjects, both spiritual and material.  Within these teachings Jesus reminds His followers to be careful in their religious practices that they are performed for spiritual edification and not to impress others, but also Jesus teaches that we must be careful in regards to the material things of the world as well.  It is important to note here that Jesus does not say that any sorts of things are really bad, but rather we must be careful in the things that we choose knowing full well what the outcomes are.

In reality what the passage above seeks and what the entire teaching of the sixth chapter of Matthew points to is the correct ordering of our lives.  This ordering is for our spiritual practices, as well as our material lives.  This issue also comes to the forefront when we begin to take a look at our participation in the corporate worship of our Holy Church.  We know that we are each called to be a part of the weekly worship of Almighty God and within that worship we seek to be united with Jesus Christ through the reception of the Holy Eucharist, through hearing the Word of God preached to us and through joining with the community of faith, the Body of Christ, that is God’s Holy Church. 

We learned this when we were first studying our catechism and they are listed in the Prayer Book of the P.N.C.C., contained in the list of the Commandments of the Church and the Holy Days of Obligation.  The Holy Days of Obligation list all of the Sundays of the Year as well as the Solemnities of the Nativity, the Circumcision, the Ascension and All Saints.  The Five Commandments of the Church further direct us in its first point to: Participate in Holy Mass and hear the Word of God on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.  In regards to these lists I have always thought that the concept of framing them as Commandments or Obligations doesn’t really express the fullness of what Jesus is teaching above.  It is a first step because all of this is truly important for us, but it goes far beyond a mere obligation.  If considered correctly, the worship of Almighty God is necessary for us because it allows us to be in a connection with the source of our being and the goal of our lives.

Now they are certainly given to us as the expectations of what it means to be a Catholic Christian in the world today.  If we call ourselves a Catholic Christian, a Polish National Catholic, then we should be as full a part of the activities of the Church as possible.  We should be a full and active member of the community of faith with which we have united ourselves. While it can be framed as an obligation, maybe in the spirit of the teaching of Jesus above it might be better framed as a correct ordering of our priorities and our lives.  We can say that since we must “seek first the Kingdom of God” then the things of God, the worship of God, the joining in community with God’s people, must come first as well.  If we are seeking first, the Kingdom of God, then our attendance at Holy Mass, the weekly worship of God’s people together on Sunday, is not something that we must get out of the way on Sunday morning, or something we must grudgingly accomplish, but rather we can see that we are playing a role in the most important work that there is, the building up of the Kingdom of God which is found all around us. 

I think that it is especially important for us to remember these concerns when the summertime rolls around.  I suppose that I, like many of my brothers in the priesthood, notice that there is a significant reduction in the number attending Holy Mass as soon as school is out and the summer is here.  While many tell me that they are away on vacation, I am smart enough to know that they aren’t away for the entire summer.  I also know that it’s not true that a significant portion of a parish community is away on vacation at the same time.

Now I also know that there is really no evil intent in what is happening here.  It’s just that many people don’t really give it much thought at all.  When summer comes around many people finally have the chance to do many of the things that they have been waiting for all year.  I know that it is just that many people prioritize their summer activities and unfortunately the worship of Almighty God is not at the top of that list.  But we must also admit that there is a problem here. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God,” and an important part of that seeking is to participate in the corporate worship of the community and the receiving of the Sacraments.  We must also know that this is to be a full part of our lives, just like all of the important things we do as a family.  While school may be over and a chance for some leisurely activities has arrived, we don’t just stop all of the things that are vital to our lives.  We still must take care of our homes such as cleaning and doing laundry.  We still must take care of our bodies, eating healthy food and getting exercise and going to the doctor when we need to.  I suppose the question is, what about our spiritual life?  What about our spiritual health?  If we are seeking first the Kingdom of God and we know that the worship of God is a vital part of our spiritual life, then we just can’t put it aside, no matter what the reason.  In fact when we begin to hold our Sunday worship in the right light, we will certainly feel that no week is quite right, if Sunday worship is not a part of it.  And even further, we come to know that all of the good things that we do and the spiritual moment we have will flow from the strength that we receive in Sunday worship and the reception of Holy Communion.

So my brothers and sisters, now that the summertime is upon us, I encourage all of you to take some time and to take stock of what the priorities of your life are.  Are you truly putting God and His Kingdom as a first point within your daily and especially weekly activities?  If not, now is the time to make a change.  Commit yourselves to be a part of the worshiping community of the Church.  Commit yourselves to commune with Jesus Christ in the reception of the Holy Eucharist.  Commit yourself to edifying yourself in listening to the Sacrament of the Word of God.  Commit yourself to the joy that is to be found in uniting with the Catholic Christian community at Holy Mass and in fellowship.  All of these things can be yours if only you choose to put them first and make them a priority.  Yes, it’s summertime and the ‘living is easy,’ but we must also know that the important things of life must still be accomplished every day and every week.  When we can come to see our time together in worship as a true joy and come to see the reception of Holy Communion as a necessary point of strength in our lives then we can see beyond the obligations we have as Catholic Christians to a place where we are seeking first for God’s Kingdom within our own lives and the lives of our family.

Our Address

1006 Pittston Avenue, Scranton, PA 18505
Phone: (570) 346-9131
Website: http://www.pncc.org
Email: info@pncc.org