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May 1979

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. (Matt. 6:33)

The whole gospel is a revolution. There is not a word spoken by Christ which is exactly the same as that of men. Listen to this: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (i.e. the necessities of life) shall be yours as well.

Generally, a man's first consideration is an anxious search for that which is necessary to give him security in his life. Perhaps that is also true of you. Jesus has put before you his way of seeing things and offered you his way of doing things. He asks of you an attitude which is totally different from the common attitude and expects you to maintain it, not just once, but all the time. The attitude is this: Seek first the kingdom of God.

When your whole being is directed towards God and you do everything because he reigns (i.e. he governs life with his laws) in you and in others, then the Father will give to you all that you need day by day. But if instead you are preoccupied first of all with yourself, you will end by caring principally for the things of this world and become their victim. You will end by seeing the good things of this world as the, object of all your efforts and as your real problem. And soon the temptation will arise within you to rely entirely upon your own efforts and to do without God.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

Jesus reverses the situation. If your primary concern is with him, to live for him, then all these other things will no longer constitute the problem of your existence. They will be yours as well or added unto you'. Utopia? An unreal dream for you who are representative of modern man, in an industrial world where competition is the order of the day and which is often caught in economic crises? But remember that the concrete difficulty of survival was not so different for the people of Galilee when Jesus first spoke these words.

It is not a question of utopia or not. Jesus is setting before you the foundations upon which you can build your life: you can live for yourself or you can live for God.

But now let us seek to understand these words well:

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

Jesus does not encourage you to be unmoved, to be passive about earthly things. Jesus wishes to change ‘pre-occupation' into 'occupation', setting you free from anxiety, fear and restlessness.

In fact, he says, 'Seek first the kingdom…' The sense of 'first' is that of more important than anything else. The search for the kingdom of God is put in the first place, but does not exclude the Christian from concerning himself also with the necessities of life. 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness' means then to behave in conformity with the demands of God which are made manifest by Jesus in his gospel.

It is only in seeking the kingdom of God that the Christian experiences the marvellous power of the Father working on his behalf.

I will tell you a story.

It is from some time ago, yet it is unbelievably relevant for the present day. In fact I know many boys and girls who behave exactly as this girl did. Her name was Elvira. She attended a teacher training college. She was poor. Only by attaining a very high grade could she be sure of continuing her studies. She possessed a strong faith. Her teacher of philosophy was an atheist and consequently he often presented the truth of Christ and the Church in an unclear, even distorted way. The girl seethed with indignation, not for herself, but because of her love for God, for truth and her companions. Fully conscious that contradicting the teacher could bring her a bad mark, what she felt within was stronger than her. She raised her hand on every occasion and when questioned said, 'Sir, that is not true!' Perhaps she did not always have all the arguments to refute the views of the teacher, but in that word of protest, 'Sir, that is not true!' there was her faith, which is the gift of truth and makes one think.

Her companions who loved her tried to dissuade her from these interventions, because they could spoil her chances. But to no avail.

Some months passed. And then came the day when the school reports were distributed. The girl took hers with trembling hands. Then a leap of joy. Ten! the highest mark.

She had sought first of all that God and his truth should reign and all the other things were given to her as well.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

And you too, if you will seek the kingdom of the Father, you will experience the same, that God is the provider of all the necessities of your life. You will discover just how extraordinary are the normal ways of the gospel.

Chiara Lubich

 

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