Have No Anxiety At All

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do we believe in the power of prayer? To speak more precisely, we believe in the power of God, and that is why we pray for things. In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells the Christians of Phillipi, Greece, “Have no anxiety at all.” Why? Because of what he says immediately preceding (which is cut off by the beginning of our reading): “The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all…”

Have no anxiety at all? One might ask whether that’s possible, or whether that’s even good? “Am I supposed to stop caring about anything?” Well, we must distinguish between two different things, one that’s good and healthy, and one that’s not: to have concern versus to worry. If I had not been concerned about preparing for this homily, I would have nothing to say to you right now. But when I worry about my homily, the task is a much more stressful burden for me, even though the Lord has never yet left me without something to say worth preaching in my entire eleven years of priesthood. Concern is necessary and important. Concern is good, but worry is worthless.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus puts his finger on why we worry: we doubt that God is near for us, we fear that we’re on our own. But Jesus asks,

If God so clothes the grass of the field (with beautiful wild flowers), which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

Jesus tells us,

“Do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ …. Your heavenly Father knows that you need (all these things). Instead, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

God our Father knows us, and loves us, and cares for us, but both Jesus and St. Paul encourage us to pray. Presenting our requests in prayer deepens our relationship with God and offers us his supernatural peace. St. Paul writes:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.Then the peace of God that surpasses all understandingwill guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Note how St. Paul’s says we are not just to ask for things but to give thanks to God at the same time. This helps us to be grounded in reality, which is much lighter than the darkness can appear, since even during our hardest times our lives’ blessings are more than we could possibly count – blessings past, present, and still to come.

And St. Paul notes how after offering our prayer requests, even if we do not see the world immediately transformed around us, a peace from God we cannot entirely explain, helps keep our hearts and minds — that is, our feelings and thoughts — rooted in Christ.

This year has been a challenging one for all of us. Many things now feel out of our control, but this was always the case for us. God is in control, and works all things in the end for the good of those who love him. The Lord Jesus, who is true and honorable, just and pure, lovely and gracious, excellent and praiseworthy, is with you; not just in the distant past, not just once this pandemic has passed, but here and now. So have no anxiety at all.

One Response to “Have No Anxiety At All”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    Thank you :). Good distinction!

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