The Flame: January/February 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Here is a paradox of our time. The more self-sufficient
we are, the more anxious we become.
Our ability to
harness the powers of nature has created a world of
relative comfort. Most people in the first world do not
have to worry about where the next meal is coming from,
how they will survive in the cold or heat, or what they
would do if they became ill. Yet, in spite of having a relative
amount of security, many people are often anxious. Why?
I am sure there are a number of reasons for these
anxieties. However, I believe the most fundamental
reason is this: We do not know God deeply enough. The
second most fundamental reason is that we do not know
ourselves well enough.
Jesus commanded us not to worry.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink, or about your body,
what you are to wear…Your heavenly Father
knows that you need them all. But seek first
the Kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
(Matthew 6:31-33 various verses)
Jesus commanded us not to worry because he knows that
we are in the hands of the almighty and all-knowing Father.
He provides. However, knowing these words of Jesus and
living a worry free life can be two different things. So how
can we grow in the peace Christ promises his disciples?
First, we need to ask ourselves why we are anxious. Is
there an external source of our worry?
There was a time
when a town crier would periodically deliver all the news
that needed to be proclaimed in the city square. We have
gradually progressed to news anytime and anywhere:
24 hour TV news channels, mobile phone alerts and
internet websites. News can be both addicting and
overwhelming. Some people can become less anxious
by curtailing their input of bad news.
Other people have an internal source for their anxiety.
Their parents were worriers. Their home life was filled
with chaos and fear. Their personal relationships have
been difficult. They have had experiences that were
deeply wounding and they fear experiencing that kind
of pain again. And perhaps they did experience some
kind of deprivation.
What do we do with our internal baggage?
change our personal histories. However, we can invite
the Lord Jesus into our memories. The truth is that he
knows our histories better than we do. By prayerfully,
inviting Jesus into wounds, He brings us into the loving
embrace of our heavenly Father. We can do this in our
own personal prayer or with the help of prayer teams.
Prayer of this kind brings us healing and helps us know
God in a more personal way.
Secondly, we need to know ourselves better.
some people who are neurotic burden bearers. They
carry concerns only meant for God. This too is a call to
prayer. We need to surrender into the hands of our
Almighty Father things we have little or no control over.
We must always remember: God is God and we are not!
Some people have the opposite problem. They are
temporarily care free because they ignore the things they
need to be busy about. They presume on God’s
providence and kindness and do not fulfill their own
responsibilities. They procrastinate. This leads to
anxiousness when time is running out. The Book of
Proverbs calls this person a sluggard and addresses him
14 times. Here is a sampling:
As vinegar to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes,
are sluggards to those who send them.
The sluggard says, “A lion is outside; I might be
slain in the street.” (Proverbs 10:26 & 22:13)
Perhaps it was St. Paul who gave the best advice regarding
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 understanding will
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The person, who prays with faith and gratitude,
magnifying the Lord and not the problem, leaves his or
her anxiety with God.
Finally, be generous.
There is something about giving
money and stuff away that makes room in our hearts for
the peace and love of the Lord. Jesus said:
Give and gifts will be given to you; a good
measure, packed together, shaken down, and
overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the
measure with which you measure will in return
be measured out to you. (Luke 6:38)
As I often say: we do not know what the future holds.
However we do know who holds the future. May 2019
be a year filled with God’s grace and peace as we
surrender to him our anxieties.
Fr. Bob Franco
Bishop’s Delegate to Catholic Renewal Ministries