Our Lord said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things shall be added unto you.” He does not say “Seek first the kingdom of God and then seek after what you are in need of.” No, having found God’s kingdom, nothing can be wanting. For as Saint Augustine says, “The kingdom of God consists in having all that one desires and in desiring nothing which tends to our own happiness.” He who has found the kingdom of God has already found all, therefore we must renounce all in order to find the kingdom of God, for out of God there is not true possession, as Saint Paul says, we are as “having nothing, yet possessing all” (2 Cor. 6:1-10).
Those who are of the world are as if they had all, yet they really possess nothing, for at death they lose all. It is to contradict the divine order to seek for the things we have need of first; it is equally contrary to God’s will that we should be solicitous of the things we have need of after we have found the kingdom of God. The first is want of faith and the other is distrust. Let us then endeavor to he like the lilies of the valley and the birds of the air and we shall be clothed more beautifully and fed more sumptuously than they by Him who created all things out of nothing from pure love. First seek the kingdom of God. Our actions will always be disorderly until order is first established in us.
A Response from Rev. Paul Robichaud CSP:
We have a tendency to see the kingdom of God as a place. Christians call it the new Jerusalem, the holy city. But in the gospels, Jesus describes the kingdom as God the Father drawing close to us. In the Gospel of Luke we find the story of the prodigal son, but it really should be named the loving father. Seeing his son far off, the father races down to embrace him and bring him home. This is the Kingdom of God. God moves towards us restoring the relationship that sin had broken. Only God could do this by drawing near to us again and God does this in Jesus. We in turn are called to open our hearts and welcome God into our souls, accepting the gift of reconciliation that can only come from God and taking our place next to Jesus as the children of the Father.
Servant of God Isaac Hecker quotes from the sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Here Jesus says, do not be anxious for what you need, for God will supply your wants; seek first the kingdom of God and all things will come to you. As Father Hecker suggests, it’s prioritizing your life. Let God come first and all the rest will work itself out. God in himself fulfills all our wants, so to seek first the kingdom is to want no more. And being set free from want, we in turn are free to take care of others because there is nothing that we need. Father Hecker cites Saint Paul (2 Cor. 6:10), where the Apostle Paul describes being set free of want by the possession of God. It’s a wonderful reflection for “we have nothing but possess all.” Saint John Chrysostom wrote a sermon on this passage of Paul called “True Riches.” He states that we are all sojourners in this life. All things are created by God and we have temporary possession of them at best. For as the saint said, as we pass in death so do our property and possessions pass on to others who in turn ultimately lose possession to others. All we truly need to be rich is to be possessed by God and be good stewards with what we temporarily have.
To seek other things before we seek God and His Kingdom is to contradict the true order, the divine order of things, Father Hecker writes. And once we have found the kingdom, we need only God to truly be happy and fulfilled. So living in the kingdom, we are free to use our goods, are talents and whatever else we have in the service of others. So as Hecker says, put God’s order in your life; be possessed by God and be truly rich. Trust in God and be set free.
Publishing and disseminating the writing of Servant of God Isaac Hecker is the work of the Office for Hecker’s Cause. Paulist Father Paul Robichaud, CSP is Postulator of the Cause of Father Hecker. His office is located at the Hecker Center in Washington, DC.