by Fr. Don Thomas
Regardless of our status in life, there is one thing that most of us seem to have in common, and that is "worrying". Men, women and children have to deal with this problem, and that is exactly what it is, a problem. I would like to suggest that it is a problem, however, with which we can learn to cope, and which we can diminish in our lives, or even eliminate in many instances. To attack the problem head-on is the key to potential success in overcoming the unhappiness that worrying produces.
Let us look at it from this viewpoint. What is it that most, if not all people worry about? The past? The future? Exactly! It is truly amazing how much we worry about events of the past—ten, twenty, forty or fifty years ago. Here we are, 75 years old, and we are worrying day in and day out about cheating in high school, lying to our partner the first month we were married, having sex or getting drunk while we were in our teens—multiply the faults and failings—and then consider after all those years how much we continue to worry. One thing I will assure you of is that worrying about the past will not change the past. Another thing about worrying about the past is that it keeps us from enjoying the present. From a common sense point of view, or even from the aspect of one's faith, if we have told God or other people that we have offended years ago—if we have told them that we are sorry, that should be it. Then forget about it, and enjoy the day you are living, enjoy the present. What is past is over with, and worrying will change nothing at all.
Then, if you are observant, you will note that if people are not worrying about the past, they're worrying about the future. With what result? The same as worrying about the past! Worrying about the future means that we are not enjoying the present. Just stop and think about it, what some people worry about as far as the future is concerned. Where is the peace of mind in the life of one who is getting married in October, and back in March they are worried about whether or not it will be raining on October 10th. They ask the priest or minister about the weather and how would they know? In the month of March, how is the priest or minister going to know if the photographer is going to show up on time, or will the flowers be delivered on time or to the right church. Tell me, in the month of March, how would anyone know what is going to happen in October? Yet, we continue to worry about things over which we have no control. I repeat what I stated above: because we worry about the past or the future, we fail to enjoy the present, and we are losers.
For those who believe in the bible, let me show you that scripture has a lot to say about worrying. It is clear, clever and therapeutic. In the sixth chapter of Matthew's gospel, we hear God telling us: "therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these". Reading on certainly gives all of us re-assurance, indicating the foolishness of worrying. Let us continue Matthew's account: "But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be worried, saying, "What shall we eat"? or "what shall we drink"? or "what shall we wear"? For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day".
After the Lord's Prayer that is said at every Mass, the prayer of the church becomes more meaningful in the light of this reflection. We pray: "Deliver us, Lord, from every evil and grant us peace in our day; keep us free from sin, and protect us from ail anxiety (unnecessary worrying), as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ. Let these words of God be sufficient for those who are wise!
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