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September 2009

(Original version May 1979)

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Mt 6:33)

The whole Gospel is a revolution. No word of Christ is like human words. Listen to this: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] shall be added to you'.

People's first concern is usually to strive anxiously for whatever will make their lives more secure. Perhaps this is also true of you. Here, though, Jesus puts you before his way of seeing things and offers you something from his way of doing things. He asks of you a completely different kind of behaviour from the usual one, not just once, but always. It's this: seek first the kingdom of God.

When your whole being is directed towards God and you have done everything so that he reigns (i.e., he governs your life with his laws) in you and in others, then the Father will give you what you need day by day.

If, instead, you worry about yourself, you will end up caring mainly for the things of this world and fall victim to them. You'll end up seeing earthly goods as your real problem, the object of all your efforts. And you will have the grave temptation to rely entirely on your own efforts and do without God.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Jesus turns the situation on its head. If your first concern is with him, to live for him, then all these other things will no longer be the main problem of your existence. They will be 'added to you', yours as 'something extra'.

A Utopia? Unrealisable for you, a modern person, nowadays, in an industrialised world, where competition rules and there is often economic crisis? I would just remind you how tough in reality it was for the people of Galilee to find enough to live on, difficulties that were no less when Jesus spoke these words.

It's not a question of whether or not it's a Utopia. Jesus is putting before you the basic setup for your life: either you live for yourself or you live for God.

But let's try to understand this word more clearly: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you'.

Jesus is not encouraging you to be inactive or passive about earthly things, to be irresponsible or superficial about your work. Jesus wants to change being 'concerned about' things into being 'concerned with' things, and set you free from anxiety, fear, restlessness.

Indeed, he says: 'Seek "first" the kingdom...' 'First' means 'more than anything else'. The search for God's kingdom is put in first place, but it does not exclude the Christian from being concerned with the necessities of life.

'Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness...' means, then, living up to God's demands made manifest by Jesus in his Gospel.

Only by seeking the kingdom of God does the Christian experience the marvellous power of the Father working on his or her behalf.

Let me tell you a story.

It took place some time ago but it's extremely relevant here. In fact I know many other young people who live as this girl did. Her name was Elvira. At that time she was ending her secondary education. She was poor and only by achieving a high grade could she be sure of continuing her studies. She had a strong faith. Her philosophy teacher was an atheist, and this would lead him often to present Christ and the Church in an unclear, even distorted way. Elvira's feelings seethed within her, not for herself but for the love of God, for the truth and for her classmates. Fully conscious that contradicting the teacher could bring her a bad mark, what she felt within was stronger than herself. She would raise her hand on every occasion, asking to speak: 'Sir, that's not true!' Perhaps sometimes she didn't have all the arguments to refute the views of the teacher, but in her words 'that's not true' was her faith, which is the gift of truth and makes one think.

Her classmates, who loved her, tried to persuade her to stop these interruptions because they could spoil her chances. But to no avail.

A few months later, the reports were handed out. Elvira took hers with trembling hands. Then her heart leapt for joy. Ten out often! The highest grade!

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

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

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

 Chiara Lubich

 

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