Sermon on the Mount–The “Don’t Worry” Gospel. Photo= Gary Zimak speaking here last Feb. about handling anxiety. ‘Remember? They were 3 great talks.
I lead off with a reference to bulletin blurbs. This week we nearly printed the guidelines for giving up mean for Lent. Yes, we meant meat! But, hey, perhaps giving up being mean is really better! It reminded me of another bulletin blunder that read: Don’t just let worry kill you, let the Church help. Say what?!
No, the Church and Jesus ARE working AGAINST worry and stress, really. It the Peace Rite at Mass we truly petition God for our wanting freedom from sin’s dominion (like fear) and to be safe from all distress, as we await the Blessed Hope and Coming of Jesus in Glory.
How to Let Grace Win out over Worrying
In this Year of Grace, we are especially pondering how to have God’s favor upon us lead us to more victorious and fruitful Catholic living. One obstacle in our path is worry or anxiety—as Jesus pointed out in His message today. The Savior in His sermon on the mount said: “One cannot add a single moment to their life by worrying… do not worry.”
Recall those talks last year by our special guest speaker Gary Zimak—the author of the “Worriers Guide to the Bible.’ He came for three nights with different addresses to urge us to not let worry take away the joy of our Catholic faith. He urged us to pray: “Lord, help me again, for I have fallen again to worry, and I so reduce myself by it, let my faith and trust in You rise up instead. Help me to trust You, again, right now, and turn this thing around. I surrender once again—to You!” Such prayers work!
I know that how, for some of you, Gary’s message was an ice-breaker for you to get finally free of the icy holds that you had been used to being shackled by.
Today’s gospel has Jesus addressing our need to trust in the Father Almighty’s plan. There is a Master Plan and we can trust in it. Jesus did so Himself, as He lived and made choices in our very position as a human person. Jesus said: Consider how nature relies on God: you too are a natural wonder of God, now act so! You can take the lessons of the lilies of the field, dear disciple. They don’t toil in living under God. Why, then, do you?
When we feel that things are out of our control, that is when we tend to worry, but how do you stop worrying? For starters, remember that God, not you, is in control. Also, of about worrying, most of the awful things we imagine that will happen often never do. We can be thankful for that. We should better understand that worrying never helps a situation get better. Worrying sends a message to ourselves and those around us that we are helpless and have nowhere to turn or no One to deliver us. However, as a Christian, we believe that God has everything in His control. If He really does, and we really believe that, then we have nothing to worry about. We only need to trust that God will take care of everything according to His plan.
Here are five more short tips from the Bible to help us to be free from our anxieties.
First, we can confess to God that we are falling into fear again, and ask Him to strengthen us. The Bible says in Philippians 4:6,7 to “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Yes, we can be so cautious that it is not hesitancy or prudence in the lead, but timidity and fear and being overly concerned for something—as if we have to have it all under our control. Why not remind yourself that God is in control, and ask God to help out, thanking Him that He is there. Stop worrying by taking your requests to Him. You have a “go-to God.” Peace comes from being in Christ Jesus, rather than just self-reliance. Yes, we do what we can, then we leave the rest up to God from there.
Secondly, that same verse reminds us to be thankful. “O God, thanks, that You’ve Got This: Amen.”
Thirdly, if one goes on to the very next verse in Philippians 4, verse 8, the Word of God gives us more advice: Quote: Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Just after Paul’s comments about worry he says that we should think on good, godly things. When we focus on positive and wholesome events, memories, plans, etc., then it is hard to be worried about everything else. Christians should be positive-minded people for we know God and His plan wins out in the end. Yes, you might have a problem going on, like needing a new job—but what about the work of God (or job of God) in you? Are you becoming more like Christ, as in being more a true self, honest person, with a good pure intention or loving heart in what you do? Are you giving witness or good report of a life of faith, and do you have some virtue shining through, and can you praise God for something in your life?! If so, then be of that mind, not of worry.
Fourthly, we have a Counselor to call upon. We are blessed in the Holy Spirit, Who goes by the title Comforter and Counselor. He is a Gift from Jesus to us to live the life of being His disciple. It says in John 14:26, 27 “But the Comforter, Who is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My Name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind for peace….so let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Would we just let that Word be planted deep within us as real and reliable!
In John 14 Jesus is explaining to the disciples where He is going and that He will return. In the meantime the Holy Spirit of God will come and indwell the believers. This was something new to the people of Jesus’ day. They did not have the Holy Spirit living within them like we do as believers today. Jesus could have been worried about His whole salvation plan working, but He turned it over, for the Spirit’s help of comfort.” “Come, Sweet Comforter, and help me. Live according to Your Name. I need it.”
The Father comforts too. The Word says in 1 Peter 5:6, 7 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He cares for you.” O God, I may be suffering and low right now, but You are the exalter. Lift me up in Your own Self. Unite me to You via your Son and Spirit.
Fifthly, we should realize that there is an inner strength to us, if we have received Christ into us. Even the Psalmist, having some of the spirit of God, declares in: Psalm 27:1-3 “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? So does Isaiah say in: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you, and yes, I will help you; yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Life was a lot less scary (and worrisome) when we were kids and we had parents who were bigger and stronger than us. When we had problems we could go to them and they would say that they would take care of it. We have a God that wants to do that for us today. Will you take your concerns to Him and rely on His strength? He is waiting to take that burden from you.
And what if you just can’t see how all you are looking at adds up to Heavenly Aid? Go to Romans 8:28 of God’s Promise, as He says to us: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”. Amen to that.