1 Corinthians 4:1-5
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life."
Is it me, or does it seem as if I always seem to get the readings about anxiety? In any event, I don’t think this assignment is a coincidence since I have made worrying almost an art form.
When we are young, our worries start out similarly small. I have some recollection of worrying about the 3rd grade spelling bee and why my terrible parents wouldn’t let me sleep over at my friend’s house-that was of course, ruining my life. As we get older, perhaps it’s grades or boyfriends, getting to drive the car on weekends or attending a good college. When we enter the world of marriage and mortgages, kids and careers, that’s when some of the heavy-duty worrying can take on a life of its own.
"No one can serve two masters." This line is often quoted in popular culture without fully capturing its import. When worry and fear over earthly things consumes our thoughts, we have very little room left for God. And when we exclude God, I am not talking just about missing church and forgetting to pray. I am talking about living a life lacking in love, gratitude and service to others. Do you notice how you treat others when your mind is preoccupied with anxiety? Can we fully love our neighbor when we are constantly wishing we had a house or car as nice as theirs? Can we be fully grateful for the food on our table when we are wondering why we can’t afford to eat at a fancy restaurant? Christ asks, "Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?" Put another, slightly less eloquent way, worrying don’t get you nowhere.
It’s not the passing worry or concern that is the problem. It’s not the nagging fear that you pray about when you wonder if your child will pass a test or if you will get the much-deserved raise at work. It’s unrealistic to think we can move through life carefree. But, it is when worry becomes our master, when we begin to serve it with our time and thoughts, that we offend God. When we "seek first the kingdom," all else will follow.
It may seem absurd that Jesus tells us not to worry about food and clothing. Aren’t these basic necessities of life? It’s seem like a fairly legitimate worry if you don’t have enough food for yourself and your family. But Jesus asks: "Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" I don’t think what we are to take from this is that we should sit idly by and wait for God to intervene. We don’t throw our arms up and hope God will show up with the rent check. Our heavenly Father knows our needs. Just give over your fears to God.
What He does ask us to do is to not to worry about tomorrow because. as we learn from the first reading from Isaiah, God will never forget us. We can trust in God. He may not show up with the rent, but He may lead us to call an old friend who just so happens to know about a great job opportunity. By trusting fully in God, we are promised care on earth. And by abandoning our focus on this life, we can set our sights on the promise of eternity.
Marlo Serritella is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.