J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings provides the most instructive characters to describe the struggle between serving two masters and anxiety: Boromir and his brother Faramir. The elder Boromir has desire to use the enemy’s ring against him as he believes he could bring to light the Ring of Power against the enemy. “The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory,” said Faramir. But his younger brother, Faramir would rather go down to defeat, in a worldly sense, than use the devices and tactics of the Enemy. Tolkien has given us the character of Faramir as an exemplar of resistance to worldly honor and the preferential option for righteous and noble causes. Faramir’s position was deeply rooted in humility so he was kept from the temptation to serve the Enemy. Above all, Faramir is not anxious about achieving victory.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus talks about two different matters, “serving two masters” and “anxiety.” What do these two phrases have in common? The greatest fear for an anxious person is some bad outcome. As one is overpowered by great anxiety, he or she will be crippled, and the worst part is the possibility of turning to false gods in order to assure a favorable outcome. It is also the case with someone who wants to submit to God but also desires to live according to the world’s standards of success.
How do you feel when Jesus calls you not to be anxious and not to serve two masters; like wild flowers in the field that do not work or spin; or to be like the birds in the sky that do not sow or reap? Perhaps you feel that you could never live up to such high standards. Whatever your feelings after reading the Gospel passages; challenged, confused or enlightened, speak to Jesus directly about your feelings.