First Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise — whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows — and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34:8-13
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! O fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no want! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Come, O sons, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life, and covets many days, that he may enjoy good?
Gospel: Matthew 6:24-34
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. 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 being anxious 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, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 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 anxious, 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.
Most of us have a pretty clear concept of love versus hate. Perhaps we struggle to love our neighbors, but when we give in to hate, most of us recognize that we have failed. Worry, on the other hand, often disguises itself as a virtue. We think we’re being “responsible,” or “realistic,” or that it’s just not something we have a choice about. We think of “not worrying” as a luxury reserved for unwashed people who follow Jimmy Buffet around on tour. But nothing could be more Christian than giving up our anxieties.
The three theological virtues are faith, hope, and love. Each is given to us only as a free gift from God. The cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, temperance, and courage) are the midpoint between two vices.
Courage, for example, is the virtue between cowardice and recklessness. But the theological virtues are pointed toward God, and, therefore, have no positive extreme.
The negative extreme of Hope is anxiety and despair. When we give in to worry, it means we haven’t fully embraced that Hope that God Our Father will provide for us. No matter WHAT happens. Not giving in to anxiety doesn’t mean that nothing bad will happen to us, it doesn’t mean we don’t strive to protect and provide for our families. But it does mean that we trust that no matter what might go wrong in this world, we are still daughters of the King, and our faith will gain us the inheritance of eternal life. Everything will be fine. Every time. It has to be.
We can never have too much faith or love. Nor can we Hope too much. It is never irresponsible to abandon our anxiety and trust God.
It’s all about perspective.
And if it seems like it would be impossible to let go of our worry, that’s because it IS impossible . . . for us. But nothing is impossible for God.
Faith is a gift. Will you ask for it? Will you accept it?
Kendra Tierney can be found blogging, homeschooling, and gestating Tierney baby number eight in Los Angeles, CA. You can find out more about her here.