We begin the First Sunday of Lent with the story of the creation and fall of man. We are told that man was created out of clay, and then God "blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being."
I am reminded of the story of the little boy who crawled out from under his parents' bed and asked his mother, "Mom, is it true that we were created out of dust and that we will return to dust?" and his mother said, "Yes, that is true." The boy replied, "Then under your bed there must be somebody either going or coming!"
The readings for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time call us into a new freedom by trusting in God's loving providence that surrounds us. As we open our eyes to this, anxiety is replaced with trustful abiding.
In the first reading, Isaiah expresses Israel's panic that God had forsaken her, since things aren't going Israel's way. God's response is poetically beautiful: "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she should forget, I will never forget you."
The readings for the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time suggest there is no limit to our participation in Godliness. The first reading states: "Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy." That's our open invitation to allow God to possess us with His holiness. He doesn't limit our participation in His goodness.
The readings for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time suggest the word of God comes directly from His heart, and if we follow His word, it leads us directly back to His heart.
In the first reading from Sirach, we learn that if we exercise the free choice of keeping His commandments, the commandments will save us. What does it mean to be saved by the word of God? Does it mean we will be saved from starving to death or losing our property or friends?
In seeking the greatest gift, what we are looking for isn't a rich man to bail us out of poverty, but rather the One who lived in poverty, died as a criminal and now invites us into His poverty. The greatest gift that we receive from God is the very hunger to seek Him.
This seeking is much like our body looking for the next breath. The air we inhale isn't ours, and we can't hold on to it, but we have to exhale it so as to seek more of what we can't possess. Yet this constant seeking gives us life and energy.