2 Chronicles 24:17-25
"Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil." (Matthew 6:34)
Most of us live anxious lives. We seem to thrive on anxiety. We worry about the past, the things we have said to others and how we treated others. We worry about the present. We worry if we are doing the right thing, or if we are offending someone we love, or whether we are coming across too strong or too weak, too upfront or too timid, or any countless number of things that we have to deal with each day of our life. Most of all, we tend to worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow has so many possibilities, so many promises, and so many expectations. We worry because we are afraid that we will make the wrong choices or we will be humiliated before our friends and neighbors. In the United States, some studies show that anxiety is the number one stressor in our lives!
When Jesus is telling us not to worry about our life, or what we are to eat or drink or what we are to wear, he realizes that we are going to have a tremendous difficulty following his advice. But he also gives us the cause for our anxiety and the path to live a life free of all these worries that we so easily take on day after day. We can live a life of faith that relies on God and God’s Providence or we can pretend that we are in charge of life and all of its overwhelming demands that come our way.
Because God has gifted us with the freedom to make choices, we sometimes jump to the conclusion that this is an absolute gift. We sometimes do not recognize that this gift of making choices is to be used within the context of our own lives and human limitations. When God made us responsible for our own lives, God made us responsible for our own decisions and actions, for the choices to grow in the grace of God. God did not put us in charge of the Universe and of other human beings. When we over-reach our sense of power and control, we soon find ourselves in situations that cause us anxiety and worry. So, from the very beginning, we have a choice. We can choose God and God’s Providence or we can choose our pretense that we are in charge of God, the World and everything that happens in the World.
Today’s Gospel also helps us recognize that the greatest remedy to anxiety is faith in God and God’s Providence. This does not mean that we are to abandon the gift of the freedom to choose what is right and to do what is good. This freedom to choose is what will lead us to Everlasting Life, with the Grace of God. So, what does God require of us? The prophet Micah (6:8) sums up in this way: "You have been told what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God."
When all things are said and done, there is no reason for us to be anxious about tomorrow!
Fr. Clemente Barron, C.P. is a member of the General Council of the Passionist Congregation and is stationed in Rome.