8th Sunday in Ordinary Time | February 26, 2017
Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on all of this week’s readings.
So I have to admit. I have always been a worrier.
Now, when I was young, the worries were usually about me.
Did I tie my tie right?
Am I going to get an A on this test?
Are my friends going to still like me if they find this out?
Am I going to get into college? Did I make the right choice for a college? What happens when I graduate college?
What am I going to do with my life?
But as I have gotten older, the worries have not diminished. In fact, they have probably only increased.
Every time my phone rings, I worry about what it might bring.
A phone call saying that my student had been picked up in an immigration raid.
That there’s been a car accident.
That my loved one is in the hospital.
That there isn’t money to pay the rent.
That there’s been another shooting.
That I’ve lost another student.
Now, I realize that I’m different. But I would bet that I am not alone in this battle with worry and anxiety.
In fact, I believe that the vast majority of us struggle with this from time to time.
We worry about finances and family.
We worry about the future and about the unknown
We worry about terrorism and epidemics.
We worry about crime and school shootings.
And all of this worry takes its toll, doesn’t it?
And yet, if we step back for a moment, we realize that all of our worry stems from the fact that we are ultimately not in control.
We want the final say. We want to be able to prevent bad things from happening. We want to be able to stop illness, to prevent hurricanes, to block bullets, to slow down time, to defy death.
But too often, we can’t. And so we worry about them, as if that could somehow change the outcome.
I think this is why this Gospel is so important.
For I believe that Christ understood both the reasons why we worry and the utter futility of our worry.
For he was human and he knew the frailty of our existence.
He understood that people would always try to exclusively control their own destiny. They would desperately seek whatever might keep them safe from harm and shielded from pain and suffering. Whether it be money or power, friendship or fame, addictions or entertainment.
He even saw how religion could be turned into a crutch. For he watched some of his contemporaries claim that they had the exclusive interpretation of God’s will. He watched as they meticulously carried out each precept of the law in an effort to control God. To force his hand. For If I fulfill my part of the bargain, then God has to do what I want.
But at the end of the day, none of these ultimately work. They do not give us complete control. They do not guarantee that we will be safe. That we will not get hurt. That we will not die.
And so we just keep worrying.
There is another way, however.
A way given to us in the 1st reading. A way demonstrated by Christ.
Which is to allow God to be God. To allow God to stand beside us in every moment of our lives. To allow God to change us, even if the circumstances of our lives do not.
To allow ourselves to be wrapped in the arms of our God and hear her whisper . . .
I’ve got you. Whether in the eye of the storm or the calm of the morning sunrise. I’ve got you.
Which then frees us to go out into the world and do the same.
To stand beside the bed of our father with Alzheimer’s and whisper, I’ve got you.
To sit with our child as he struggles with depression and whisper, I’ve got you.
To advocate on behalf of the refugee we may never meet and whisper, I’ve got you.
To hold the hand of our best friend as they bury their partner and whisper, I’ve got you.
To look into the eyes of the one who has wronged us with forgiveness and whisper, I’ve got you.
We have a choice my friends.
We may continue to worry. Or we may be still and come to know our God.
May God be Praised.