The ascetic ideal
(Matthew 6: 25-33)
The ascetic goal of holy poverty has not been nearly as central to Christianity as it has to
Hinduism or Buddhism, being practiced mainly by early hermits and the stricter sort of
monks and nuns. Yet this passage has often been quoted as a poetic description of that ideal.
Others prefer to emphasize the theme of trust in God as bringing prosperity, though that
emphasis downplays the importance of the introductory sentences.
What images from nature can you find in this passage that symbolize the gifts of God?
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other,
or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will
drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more
than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can
any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell
you, even Solomon (1) in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes
the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not
much more clothe you--you of little faith? 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.
New Revised Standard
( 1) The wealthiest of the ancient Jewish kings.
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This is an excerpt from Reading
About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers
Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by
Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing.
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