Confidence in God and Our Temporal Necessities
Seeking First the Kingdom of God and His Justice
“Seek ye therefore first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
It was thus that the Saviour concluded the discourse on Providence. Aconsoling conclusion, it includes a conditional promise; it depends on us to be benefited by it. The Lord will occupy Himself all the more with our interests when we concern ourselves with His interests.
It behoves us to stop and meditate on the words of the Master.
A question immediately arises: Where is the kingdom of God, which we must seek before all else?
“Within you,” the Gospel answers. “Regnum Dei intra vos est.”5
To seek the kingdom of God is, then, to erect a throne for Him in our souls, to submit ourselves entirely to His sovereign dominion. Let us keep all of our faculties under the merciful sceptre of the Most High. Let our intelligence be mindful of His constant presence; let our will conform itself in everything with His adorable will; let our hearts fly to Him frequently in acts of ardent and sincere charity. Then we shall have practised that “justice” which, in the words of the Scriptures, signifies the perfection of the interior life.
We shall have followed to the letter the counsel of the Master; we shall have sought the kingdom of God.
“And all these things shall be added unto you.”
There is, here, a kind of bilateral contract: On our part we work for the glory of the heavenly Father; on His part, the Father commits Himself to provide for our necessities.
“Cast thy care upon the Lord.” Fulfil the contract that He proposes to you; He will fulfil the given word. He will watch over you, and “He will sustain you.”6
“Think of Me,” said the Saviour to Saint Catherine of Siena, “and I will think of thee.” And, centuries later, in the convent of Paray, He promised Saint Margaret Mary that those particularly devoted to the Sacred Heart would have success in their undertakings.
Happy the Christian who conforms well to this maxim of the Gospel! He seeks God, and God looks after his interests with His omnipotence; what can be lacking to him? “The Lord ruleth me; and I shall want nothing.”7
Practice the solid interior virtues, and thus avoid all disorder: the faults and vices that are the most common causes of failure and ruin.
Praying for Our Temporal Necessities
Confidence, as we have just been describing it, does not take away from us the obligation of prayer. In our temporal necessities, it is not enough for us to await the assistance of God; we must also ask Him for it.
Jesus Christ left us the perfect model of prayer. Therein He makes us ask for our “daily bread”: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In regard to this obligation of prayer, is there not possibly frequent negligence on our part? What imprudence and what foolishness! We deprive ourselves, out of levity, of the protection of God, the only supremely efficacious one.
The Capuchins, the legend says, never die of hunger because they always piously recite the Our Father. Let us imitate them, and the Most High will not leave us wanting in our necessities. Let us ask, then, for our daily bread. It is an obligation imposed on us by faith and by charity to ourselves.
Can we raise our pretensions, however, and also ask for riches? Nothing is opposed to this, as long as this plea is inspired by supernatural motives and we stay fully submissive to the will of God. The Lord does not prohibit the expression of our desires; on the contrary, He wishes us to be quite open with Him. Let us not expect, however, that He bend to our fantasies; the very Divine Goodness itself is opposed to this. God knows what is good for us. And He will concede to us the goods of the earth only if they can serve for our sanctification.
Let us hand ourselves over completely to the direction of Providence, saying the prayer of the wise man: “Remove far from me vanity, and lying words. Give me neither beggary, nor riches; give me only the necessaries of life. Lest perhaps being filled, I should be tempted to deny, and say: ‘Who is the Lord?’ or being compelled by poverty, I should steal, and forswear the name of my God.”8
Footnotes to Chapter 3
- “Ideo dico vobis, ne solliciti sitis animae vestrae quid manducetis, neque corpori vestro quid induamini. Nonne anima plus est quam esca, et corpus plus quam vestimentum? “Respicite volatilia caeli, quoniam non serunt, neque metunt, neque congregant in horrea, et Pater vester caelestis pascit illa. Nonne vos magis pluris estis illis? “Et de vestimento quid solliciti estis? Considerate lilia agri quomodo crescunt: non laborant neque nent. Dico autem vobis quoniam nec Salomon in omni gloria sua coopertus est sicut unum ex istis. Si autem foenum agri, quod hodie est et cras in clibanum mittitur,Deus sic vestit: quanto magis vos modicae fidei! “Nolite ergo solliciti esse, dicentes: Quid manducabimus, aut quid bibemus, aut quo operiemur? Haec enim omnia gentes inquirunt. Scit enim Pater vester, quia his omnibus indigetis.
“Quaerite ergo primum regnum Dei et justitiam ejus, et haec omnia adjicientur vobis.” Matt. 6:25-26 and 28-33.
- Prov. 31:10-28.
- Petits Bollandistes, vol. 8, July 18.
- “Numquid poterit Deus parare mensam in deserto?… Numquid et panem poterit dare aut parare mensam populo suo? Et ignis accensus est in Jacob, et ira ascendit in Israel, quia non crediderunt in Deo, nec speraverunt in salutari ejus.” Ps. 77:19-22.
- Luke 17:21.
- “Jacta super Dominum curam tuam, et ipse to enutriet.” Ps. 54:23.
- “Dominus regit me, et nihil deerit.” Ps. 22:1.
- “Mendicitatem et divitias ne dederis mihi: tribue tantum victui meo necessaria; ne forte satiatus illiciar ad negandum, et dicam: Quis est Dominus? aut egestate compulsus furer, et perjurem nomen Dei mei.” Prov. 30:8-9.