8th Sunday in Ordinary Time A
Maybe your life is very different than mine. Maybe in your life you simply have too much time and you are looking for ways to waste it. Maybe you have an overabundance of energy at the end of the day, and you want to spend it on something useless. If that is true than the next few hundred words will be a bit of a waste for you. But if not, I have something that promises to save time and energy and it will cost you nothing. What if you gave up worrying?
Now I know that worrying is a priority for you and you might not want to let it go. For example, it is more important than homework, because before you even begin it, you have to explain how much you have and how concerned you are about whether or not you can finish it. The same is true for deadlines at work and fretting over what happens next. Worrying will not affect any of these things and yet we cannot even think of abandoning it.
I have to think that we treat worrying indeed as sacred. I have spoken to people and suggested that praying more is exactly what they need. And they will say to me, “Father, I don’t have the time.” So I ask them if they ever worry and they respond, “All the time.” We are glad to spend energy on the problem, but have no time for its solution.
Jesus understands what a waste worrying is. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” The God who knows how to clothe the wild flowers more beautifully than King Solomon’s wardrobe and feeds the birds of the air will take care of us as well. How much important are we than them!
These words of comfort might seem a distant cry away from the difficult challenges of the week before to not grow angry, to not retaliate or to love your enemies. But it is truly a part of the whole. If we understood how beloved we are by God, how our God is always there for us, than we need not resort to violence for God will be our protector. We need not hate our enemies for God is our security. Not worrying amounts to simply trusting God.
My spiritual director in seminary was a little Italian leprechaun name Fr. Al Giaquinto who passed away about a year ago. In his famous high pitched voice he once greeted me by saying, “You look awful Bob.” I said thanks and explained that I had trouble sleeping the night before. Al blurted out, “Then you don’t trust God.” I was like I am doing the best I can; I am in the seminary. But he was right. Whenever we cannot sleep due to anxiety, it is because we are holding onto something. We might entrust everything else to God, but the thing my important we reserve for ourselves to toss and turn all night with as if we are going to do something better and more clever with our problem than the God of all the universe.
Often people come to me and list all the things wrong in their life. I then ask them to slow down, take a deep breath and make believe there is a God. When we worry, we are literally building a one-sided case for how miserable our life is. It is not a dispassionate look taking in the good and the bad. Instead we anticipate all that could go wrong and every disheartening scenario. There is no room for God in that equation. Why not take account of God? Why not savor the fact at the very heart of our faith, that our Lord will not fail us? Why not entrust ourselves to the glory to steer away from our dread.
During the sacrament of Reconciliation, I hear some things that I am not sure are sins. People get angry for a moment; they curse when they stub their toe; they miss mass although they had an operation on a Saturday. Yet, no one ever confesses worrying too much. Yet, there is expressly a command against it. “Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Lent begins this week. We will sacrifice and give up a variety of things, many of them dietary. I suggest that if you really want to be healthy in every manner – physically, emotionally and spiritually, put all your trust in God and give up worrying. Let’s see how that feels forty days later.