Eight Sunday after Epiphany A 2011
Someone called me one day saying, “Fr. I am worried about not being able to find job these days. There are just too much unemployed people waiting in line just like me. I am worried about not being able to pay my rent and end up nowhere.”
Another person called me on the phone saying, “Fr. I am worried about losing my family because I am not able to pay my monthly house rent. I have received an eviction notice and if I am not able to move out from the house by next week, the sheriff will take my family away from me and it will surely destroy our very foundation and being.”
And yet, another call I received two weeks ago saying, “Fr. Have you heard about the prediction of the end of the world in May 2011, an earlier prediction than the previous one from the Mayan calendar December 2012? It looks real and surely is happening around the world.”
I was sharing my own worries to Lynn one day, “I’m worried that I will have an early dementia due to stress. And she told hers, “I can’t find my phone and my keys, they were just here a few moments ago.”
We all worry. We worry about the economy we worry about our health and our families. Worry seems to be the basic state of people in our society. If people are not worried about one thing they are worried about another. They worry about global unemployment and life security. I once had someone tell me they were worried because they had nothing to worry about and that there must be something they should be worrying about but had forgotten and that worried them.
The end result of all this worrying is sleeplessness and high blood pressure. Most of the time what we worry about, we can do nothing about, so worrying just robs us of joy.
I once told my Nephrology Doctor about my worry of not being able to get life insurance because of a significant amount of protein in my urine test which disqualifies me from the standard insurance requirements. My doctor scolded me saying, “Your life insurance is when you modify your diet regimen and lose weight. When you do that, you will live your life to its fullest.” She is right!!!
Our Lord Jesus Christ is right too when he said, “Don’t worry about how you will live” Jesus is not saying that we should just take on an optimistic attitude that ignores the very real problems and dangers of our world. However he does tell us not to worry. At the same time he tells us not to worry for a reason. He gives some very good reasons.
So what reasons do Christians have for not worrying? One is that life is more than food and the body more than clothing. We know that there is something greater than this material world. We know that there is spiritual reality that is deeper and more meaningful than these things. We know that things like love, compassion, faith and hope are more basic to human existence than mere food and clothing. So we don’t ignore the dangers that we may lose the physical things we need. Rather we look beyond those physical needs to more basic things.
We also know that there is a life beyond this one. I can’t imagine how people who don’t believe in an after life face death. To them the prospect of starvation must always loom over them. If the world were to come to end by nuclear war or natural disaster, to them that would be the end of their existence. But we know that there is more to life than this mortal existence. There is an eternity of life after this body turns to dust.
Don’t worry. What is the worst that can happen? The world economy falls apart and we starve. But we know that the source of love and hope and faith, Jesus Christ, is not dependent upon things as fragile as the environment. God will always be there for us. And when we die, whether by violence, natural disaster or extreme old age, we have an eternity of peace and light waiting for us. That sounds like a good reason not to worry!
Jesus gives us another good reason not to worry. In fact he seems to make the same point twice in this passage. First he says, “Look at the birds. They don’t worry about their next paycheck and yet they have plenty to eat.” God takes care of them. If God is going to go to the trouble of feeding the birds that are a dime a dozen, isn’t He going to care for us? Then he says, “Look at the wild flowers. They don’t read fashion magazines or run to the mall all the time; they don’t get chemical peels and face lifts and tummy tucks, but they are more beautifully clothed than all the movies stars in Hollywood.” God made them beautiful. If God goes to the trouble of making mere grass beautiful how much more will he cloth you in beauty?
The point is: God will provide. God made you. He will provide for the material things you need. You may not have all the luxury items that the world likes. But what God provides will be more beautiful and meaningful in its simplicity. Worrying often accomplishes nothing. In fact it just seems to make matters worse. If you worry about being sick you will make yourself sick. If you worry that your life will not have meaning or good quality, you will rob yourself of quality and meaning in life. Worry is useless.
Now I think this is a good time to make a distinction between worry and concern. There are definitely things to be concerned about. We should be concerned about what we eat and how we will eat and have clothing and shelter. But if we have concerns we should act on these concerns and do something about it. The problem is we often have concerns about things that we can’t control, like rouge nations or the global environment or economy. And so we worry about those things. If you can do something about a concern then do it. Eat healthy, get involved with the community. If you have a concern and you can’t do anything about it, give it to the Lord. He is bigger than any problem you are worried about. He can handle global warming, nuclear proliferation and the hole in the ozone layer before breakfast. Do what you can about the small things with God’s help, and let God worry about the big things. If you can do something about a concern then do it. We have to start modifying our way of expending our resources. Do not spend more than you earn. Remove fast foods on your list of places, cook at home instead. Avoid delinquencies in your house payment, you will find the overcharges to be overwhelming. Avoid promises that may not be accomplished, they will destroy relationships. Be patient in your search for job and do not lose hope. Walk with faith in your heart.
“Why worry”, goes the song of Dire Straits, “There should be laughter after pain, there should be sunshine after rain, these things have always been the same. Some people can be bad, the things they do the things they say, but why worry now?”
Let us continue to do the will of God. Compassion is what our people need, give them compassion instead of breaking them into pieces, for what profits a person if he/she gains everything because of power and pride but lose them all when we meet before the Lord our maker. If you can do something about a concern then do it. Peace be with you all, peace that surpasses all understanding may soothe your hearts and souls even when man persecute and revile you. Come, be at peace with your God, let tomorrow worry about itself. Come be one in the body of Christ and gain your strength from the very root that sustains you, the love of God through His Son Jesus Christ and in the fellowship of the Holy spirit, Come, we are here for you. Come with a smile in your face. Amen.