Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time February 26, 2017
Isaiah 49, 14-15 + Psalm 62 + 1 Corinthians 4, 1-5 + Matthew 6, 24-34
St Peter and St William Churches in Naples, FL
The times in which we live provide more than enough reason to worry and be anxious. Fear is being used by too many to manipulate and manage our thinking and our options. It is a handy weapon to silence opposition and easily leads to abuses of power. History is full of examples. To these times and to all our fears and worry speaks this Gospel. Worry threatens us all. It is a part of daily life; but this Gospel suggests that for people of faith it will not control our daily lives. There are some worries not caused by external circumstances either, but rather by an internal disposition. I’m not one of them, but I know many who are worriers and are perpetually anxious. My mother was one of them, but as she grew older, I watched her get over it, as she grew more grateful for all the blessings and joys in her life.
It seems to me that anxious people and those who worry are not thankful enough for the good things that happen to them, and they spend way too much time thinking about what might happen that is not so good. I read a survey recently that reports that the most common worry people have is about money, 45%. Then 39% of people surveyed worry about people, 32% about their health, 20% about exams, and 15% worry about their job security. Now, we know that worry is not only useless, but that it is positively injurious to one’s health. Going through life without any worry or fear would probably suggest that one has not really lived very much; but reducing the power that worry has over us is possible, and Jesus speaks about that today.
Concentrate on what is essential is what Jesus proposes for his faithful, which is doing the Will of God. There is no suggestion anywhere in revelation that it is God’s will for us to be fearful or worry. In fact, the first words spoken aloud in the New Testament are: FEAR NOT, and they are spoken over and over again. Worry is out of the question when pleasing God and trust in God are the dominant elements in one’s life. It’s a matter of living one day at a time. Worry robs us of the pleasure of enjoying this day and this moment. It keeps us from a full and joyful life. Worry about an unknown future and things that may never happen spoils the moment when all is well because God is good.
The essence of faith is knowing that life is full of risk, but we are not helpless victims because we are God’s children. The essence of faith is knowing that things are always uncertain and fragile, they come and they go, but God provides what we need even if sometimes not what we want. The essence of faith provides the courage to live with grateful joy in an uncertain world amid things and people who will pass away.
The prayer which Jesus taught us is a good one for those who worry, and a reminder for those who don’t. It urges us to ask for “our daily bread” not tomorrow’s or next week’s. It the prayer of people who live in the present with confidence in the one called, “Father.” What we must learn to do says St Augustine: is leave the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence