If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. (Matthew 6:30-34)
This is the fourth in a series of articles on what it means to be transformed by clothing ourselves with Christ. In the previous article, we described how being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ happens and how this results in a transformed personality. This article will describe two other ways in which this transformation takes place: in our priorities and in our prayer lives.
In addition to a transformed personality, a second result of clothing ourselves in Christ is that our priorities begin to change. Jesus becomes our first priority. Prayer becomes a priority. Resisting sin becomes a priority. Everything we do becomes an effort to please him.
We find ourselves wanting to love more and being more patient and more considerate toward others. We want our homes to resemble a miniature church-concerned not only with raising moral kids but also with teaching them about life in the Spirit.
We find ourselves wanting to get our lives in greater order. We want our work to be fair, honest, even a gift back to God for all he has given to us. We find ourselves seeking to serve the unfortunate. In short, we begin replacing ourselves with Jesus as the one who sits on the throne of our lives.
Transformed Prayer Lives
Finally, with transformed personalities and priorities comes a change in our prayer. It can be very easy to let the many concerns and challenges we face in life preoccupy our minds and overtake our prayer lives. “How will I resolve this family crisis? How will I pay those bills? How will I have a happy marriage? How will I have a successful career?” But Jesus told us not to worry about these things. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” he said, “and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33). And this is what happens in our prayer as we put on the garment of salvation.
The contrast between being anxious and seeking the kingdom of God is clear in Luke’s story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus rebuked Martha for allowing herself to get so caught up in serving him that she lost her peace and criticized her sister. At the same time, he commended Mary for making the better choice of sitting at his feet and listening to him speak.
Does Jesus want us to prepare for special events like family gatherings? Yes. Does he want us to apply ourselves and develop our skills and talents at work? Yes. Does he want us to have fun? Of course. So what does it mean to “seek his kingdom first?” It means trying our best to live under his rule by loving him, praising him, and learning how to listen to him in daily prayer. Jesus promises that if we seek him first, we will find him. In fact, the more we pray like this, the more we will find our personalities and priorities changing.
Jesus turned the prospect of eternal death into the promise of eternal life. And in so doing, he has clothed us with joy (Psalm 30:12). It is now up to us to seek this joy each and every day. St. Paul tells us that the corruptible has been clothed with the incorruptible, the mortal with immortality. Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53-54). All we have to do is put on our new clothing in Christ, and we will see our personalities, our priorities, even our prayer lives, transformed. And that means we will become “the living Christ in the world.”
(This article is an adaptation of the article, “Personality, Priorities, Prayer” in the May 2008 issue of The Word Among Us devotional magazine. Used with permission. Joe Difato is the publisher of The Word Among Us.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- How would you describe a transformed personality? In what way has your personality changed as you have deepened your faith in Jesus Christ? What parts of your personality still need to be transformed?
- How would you describe a transformed prayer life? How would you describe your own prayer life? In what way has your prayer life changed as you have drawn closer to Jesus Christ? Are there some additional steps you can take to strengthen your prayer life? What are they?
- The article describes some ways we can “seek first the Kingdom of God.” It includes “trying our best to live under his rule by loving him, praising him, and learning how to listen to him in daily prayer.” How are you doing in these areas? How can you do better?
- The article goes on to say that “Jesus turned the prospect of eternal death into the promise of eternal life And in so doing, he has clothed us with joy (Psalm 30:12). It is now up to us to seek this joy each and every day.” How can you do this every day?
- Finally, the article ends with these words, “All we have to do is put on our new clothing in Christ, and we will see our personalities, our priorities, even our prayer lives, transformed. And that means we will become ‘the living Christ in the world.’” How would you explain these words to another Catholic man?