Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious at least four times in today’s Gospel. I don’t know about you but I find these words easier said than done. When deadlines loom or money seems short or I have done things I wish I could take back, I worry. Will I have enough time to finish this project? Will I have enough money to pay my bills? Will the person I’ve hurt forgive me? Will God forgive me? Conditions in our world cause concern. When will we have peace all over the world? Can we heal the divisions in our nation? Can the tide of terrorism be stopped? How do we stop violence and welcome the stranger and those we name strange because they differ from us? What can I do about these things anyway? Today’s words from the Sermon on the Mount call us to remember that God is the Creator. I am not. I am a creature, a child of God. I belong to God, called to live God’s will and not to have God live my will. When I let go of being a control freak, I turn to God and not to political power, amassing wealth, believing that only my way of thinking is correct, and/or that I am in charge. In other words, I turn away from serving mammon, and seek to serve the One who alone can give rest to my soul.
The prophet Isaiah tells us that God is like a mother who cannot forget her infant and cannot be anything but tender towards the child of her womb. Even if a human mother could forget, God will never forget us. These comforting words were spoken to a people in exile, a people who had lost everything except their faith in God. And that faith was growing more tenuous by the day. So through the prophet, God speaks words that ask the people not to lose faith. God speaks to us through the words of Isaiah, too. Even though the world seems to be going to h-e-double-hockey-sticks in a hand basket, God’s tender care continues to hold and nurture us. So do not worry. Trust.
Psalm 62 invites us to affirm that God alone is our rock of strength, our way of safety, our hope. If we pour out our hearts before God and let go of our worries and those things and people in whom we place our trust seeking a false sense of security, we will find God in our midst. We will know that we are not alone. Hope does not mean that everything will turn out all right. It does mean that no matter how things turn out, we will be all right. While these words can be hard to believe, more often than not I have found that they are true. When I try to take charge and place my trust everywhere but in God, my solution only muddies the waters and makes things worse. When I let go and let God use me as a servant of Christ and steward of God’s mysteries, I find peace, and what worries me either becomes less of a concern or goes away.
That does not mean relinquishing my part in working with God to find peace. As the saying goes, we are to live as if all depends upon God, because it does. We are to act as if all depends upon us, because it does. Our job is to cooperate with God, and look for God, even where God seems absent or aloof. As St. Francis de Sales taught, just as birds find air wherever they fly, so we find God wherever we are.
I recently learned about a high school student whose family lived in a car. That was their home. He went to school each day, but because he had to work to bring in some income for his mother and siblings, and because they lived in a car, he often did not have the time or resources to get his schoolwork done. He was falling behind. It took a relationship with an adult mentor who worked with him on a regular basis and built a trusting relationship with him for him to feel free to tell his story. That sharing opened doors for him. He got help to find housing, resources for his mother, and the means he needed to finish school. Had that adult not cared enough to volunteer as a mentor, that relationship would not have formed and ways to relieve his anxiety would not have helped to transform his life.
Pope Francis preached about Noah and the flood last week. He said: “In today’s world there is blood being spilt. Today the world is at war. Many brothers and sisters are dying, even innocent people, because the great and powerful want a larger slice of the earth; they want a little more power, or they want to make a little more money on arms trafficking. And the Word of the Lord is clear… Both caring for peace and a declaration of war begins with each of us.” Many people are turning to mammon for security, rather than to God.
We cannot serve both God and mammon. So serve God. We are not in charge, nor can we add a day to our lives by worry. So do not worry. Honestly share your heart. Pray with the psalmist: “Trust in him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him.” As we enter into Lent this week, as our fears and concerns continue to weigh us down, find God wherever you fly today. Let God be the air in which you breathe at ease, and like your mother might hold you in her arms, let God’s tenderness, however you imagine God, hold you and help you live as the servants of Christ we are called to be. Do not worry.
Rev. Paul H. Colloton, OSFS
Grant us, O Lord, we pray,
that the course of our world
may be directed by your peaceful rule
and that your Church may rejoice,
untroubled in her devotion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
—Collect for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved.