Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time

Healing Worries’ Warts

What are you worried most about? Were you thinking about your own worries as the deacon read the Gospel? Worry is real. It means to allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
So what is your primary difficulty or trouble?
Young people – do your friends like you? Are you going to get good grades or into the school of your choice?
Parents – Are you worried about providing for your family or keeping your family together? Are you worried about paying the bills, your health, your security, your future because of the new government and its actions? Are you worried about your job? Are you worried about your retirement?
Maybe some people are just worried about Mass ending in time to get a good table at the restaurant. That is OK.
Are you worried about the lack of faith or practice of religion of a family member? And the BIGGIE: I am sure that someone here today is worried about dying. Are you worried about getting into heaven since you committed a sin long ago that you do not feel can be forgiven? We all have a primary worry. In each of these examples, at one time or another, I have heard people express worry about one or more of these issues.
Jesus said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So, do we worry for other people: for many of our parishioners who are undocumented immigrants? Some are worried about deportation and the separation of their families. If we go out of ourselves and think of others in the world, do we worry for our brothers and sisters who might be killed in war. They are worried about finding a country that will welcome them. They are worried about what the future will bring them in a strange place different than their devastated homeland.
I can only put myself in their shoes and ponder what the Scriptures put to us today: “The Lord has forsaken me: my Lord has forgotten me.” If we who have the basics of life in this community and find things to worry about, imagine what those refugees are feeling, what those victims of sexual slavery are going through.
Some people of faith might even despair that God does not care about the world because He let it become such a mess. Has God forsaken our world?
The same prophet Isaiah speaks clearly using strong imagery. Even if a mother forsakes her child, I will never forget you. You moms know how strong the bond is for your children. I can only imagine, but God’s love and care is stronger than that.
Wise words from Jesus invite us to seek first the Kingdom of God. When you find yourself worrying about anything, PRAY! When another person is worried about something, you can listen to them. Then invite them to pray. Prayer is very powerful and lifts our hearts and minds to God who loves us and cares for us more than we know. When I find myself worried, I often cannot find the word to even speak to God. I pray the Hail Mary/rosary, those memorized prayers of our tradition. They truly help through their rhythm and power to get me rooted again in God. Seek first the Kingdom of God!
The Gospel invites us to reflect upon these questions as well: How do we even know that God loves us? And what proof has God given us that we are loved? These are difficult questions. I do not believe that proof of God’s love can come by way of the intellect. I cannot prove to you that God is love and that God loves the world and everyone in it by a well thought out argument. Our Sacred Scriptures and Church teaching affirm that God is love, but does that prove it to me?
Jesus says- do not worry about your life. Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan? I would add this question to our modern age, can any of you by controlling your wealth, your security, your health, etc. live on this earth indefinitely?
In just a few days, if you receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, you may hear: remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. This statement is a truth about each and every human life. We live now, but one day, we shall die. During Lent especially and really living the spiritual life in its entirety, God teaches us that WE MUST DIE. And we will also rise again. We have to be transformed. This is the pattern of Jesus the Christ. We take up our cross and like Him, are to be crucified and die. This must happen IF we are to rise again. Your false self, your ego, who you think you are has to die. The human Jesus had to die for the Risen Christ to be revealed. There is no other way.
When religion remains at the immature level, it tends to create very violent people who believe that they are on the side of the good and the worthy and the pure and the saved. They project all their evil somewhere else and attack it over there. They export the natural pattern of death to others who they believe have to die. This keeps them from facing the reality that they themselves must die. Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Many of you have had a situation in your life have had an experience of failing or falling apart or something you could not control and could not understand. Hopefully, you were transformed by that “death” and just know in the depths of your soul that God, someone greater than you, loved you in spite of your failure. That was not your true self that died. It was what spiritual guides call your false self or what psychology calls your ego. By dying to the false self, you discovered your true self in this great God who is ultimate Love. You no longer have to think that you must prove that God loves you; You accept that God loves you unconditionally.
Having experienced that kind of dying before you actually die, you now no longer have to worry … about anything.
I invite you to make Lent this year about dying to yourself. Ask God to help you to be able to love to the extreme like His Son Jesus did on the Cross. Ask God to help you to have a faith so strong that you will not worry about family, friends, money, work, retirement, illness, suffering – and that you will seek first His Kingdom.
Not all are at the stage of understanding what I am saying and that is OK. If however, I have said something that strikes to your heart, God is inviting you to go deeper. Seek first the Kingdom of God means to ask Him what you are to do. Trust that God will show you the way.
Don’t worry about your life. God’s got that.

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