WHAT, ME WORRY?
Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time ©
Scriptural Readings: Malachi 3:19-20a; Psalms 98:5-6, 7-8, 9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12;
My dear encountered couples:
As we are approaching another end of the Church, liturgical year, our gospel reading reminds us of the end of many things. The magnificent temple of Jerusalem will be destroyed, “not one stone will be left on another,” nations will war with one another, all creation will go crazy with earthquakes, plagues, and famines. People will persecute each other. Even members of families will turn against their own.
Jesus does not paint a very rosy picture of life on earth. Yet, at the same time he gives us a glimmer of hope - for he will supply us with words and wisdom whenever we have the need. Not a hair of our heads will be harmed through it all, if we hang in with patient endurance to the end.
Throughout the history of the world before and after the time of Jesus, many evils have befallen mankind. And, if we are to believe the six o’clock news, the evils seem to not only be remaining with us but are multiplying many times over. People will most likely continue to persecute people for a long time to come — and nature will go on with its rampagings that cause human suffering and take human lives.
If we think about it too long we might find ourselves so frightened of something or other happening to us that we become paralyzed with the terror of it all. And that is exactly what the Evil One would like to have happen to us - paralyzation - worrying over possible future misfortunes so much that we become incapable of living our lives well or at all in the present.
When things in life go wrong, or when the future looks threatening, it is time for our faith in God to be displayed. We say we believe in God and in many things about him. But it is only when the going really gets tough that we are made aware of just how much faith we possess — and whether all our statements of belief in God are just a lot of hot air.
Every person has his and her share of misery in life. Don’t you ever believe otherwise. Some people might look to you as if they go along without a care in the world. Don’t believe it! For unknown to you they all have problems, worries, and doubts. Some are just better at covering them up.
I, as a priest, hear many private revelations from people. And I want to repeat: Every man, woman, boy and girl has troubles!
The problems and troubles of some people might on the scale of weighing miseries be greater than those of others. But to each and every person the present problem that one has is horrendous. No matter how large or how small, you have to deal with your troubles and I have to deal with mine.
The problems of the world depicted on the TV news are one thing. We can become worked up over them and maybe even do something to alleviate them. But we find that we can also ignore them.
Our own troubles are not easy to ignore. Evade them through alcohol or drugs and we find later the problems are still there, maybe even more so. We must live with them, make the best of them, solve them. Certainly we must face them and do something.
Fortunately, we are not left on our own. God, the invisible One, is with us. He advises, strengthens, encourages us. But it is only the person of faith that his advice, strength and encouragement can help.
It is similar to someone handing a blind man a hundred dollar bill. Though he is unable to see, if he believes someone is handing him the money and he reaches out for it, he gets it. If he doesn’t believe and reach out for it, the hundred dollars never becomes his.
Likewise, when you believe in God’s desire to help you, and you reach out to him, you receive his help. If you don’t really believe and you don’t reach out, you get nothing.
Jesus has told us many times to believe. He is with you at all times to get you through the storms of life. Through the Holy Spirit he advises you on what to say and on what to do. In many ways he has told you to just hang in there and he will get you through it all. Physically and mentally you may suffer - at one time a little, another time a lot. But he is helping you work through the problem, usually without you feeling his presence or even seeing any evidence of it. That is where real faith makes the difference.
Please take note and remember this. God can only help you in the present moment. He cannot help you in the future until the future becomes present. We usually worry about future happenings, or the possibility of future happenings. Someone said that 90% of what we worry about will never happen. When you need God’s help in the present, it will be there. He will be there.
What does Jesus mean when he says, “not a hair of your head will be harmed?” That is a mystery since we know that many great saints with all their faith had much more happen to their bodies than the harming of a few hairs.
But perhaps what Jesus meant was that with faith in him, with patient endurance, you will come out on the other side of all life’s difficulties a better person because of them instead of less of a person. You will have grown into a more faithful follower of Christ, your love stronger, and your union with God closer. (Eventually, maybe even your hair will grow thicker and softer — I sure hope mine does.)
Jesus Christ endured and suffered in many ways for years. He is acquainted through experience with what you are going through. He continues to go through these things in you. He came out victoriously in his day, and he will work it so you come out victoriously in yours. Believe that - for it is an eternal truth. Your belief and endurance will not only keep you from being consumed by evils, but will turn those very evils into working for your good.