8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

The American author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia once said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy” and this is so true. Most of us know from experience that worry can truly be energy sapping and it even causes us to lose sleep and sometime appetite. Worry can be also crippling and at times it can paralyse our thoughts and actions. Even though we know these things, we can never stop ourselves of worrying about one thing or another… parents worry about children, students worry about exams and assignments, graduates worry about job opportunities, immigrants worry about their families back home, and the list goes on and on. We not only are riddled with worry about ourselves, but we also worry for others as if our own troubles aren’t enough.

The gospel today has Jesus telling His disciples to stop worrying and that tomorrow will take care of itself. We can even be cynical about the examples that Jesus gives and say, birds and flowers have no mortgages or bills to pay and therefore surely, they have nothing to worry about. Therefore we continue to worry and struggle with it.

In the light of what Jesus says in the gospel, how does one stop from worrying? As I reflected on this, another related question came to mind… when do people start worrying and when do they stop worrying? Most often, we start worrying when we do not know the outcome of something. In other words, when we have no control of the outcome, we begin to wonder and worry as to ‘How can I determine the outcome in the way I would like it to be?’ The moment we can control or determine the outcome to be the way ‘I would like it to be’, we stop worrying. Which means, it is the uncertainty that makes us worry or raises anxiety.

The point that Jesus is trying to make is that worry is the exact opposite of faith… worry is caused by not trusting God. Jesus is not saying that you should not plan your future or take positive steps to try to ensure that life works out well for us. But often, when we do take those steps, what we are relying on is on our own abilities and believing that ‘I can make it happen’. That is why when it ‘does not go according to my plan’, we worry. If faith is all logical and predictable, then it should not be called faith in the first place. But “faith” as the dictionary defines it is ‘having complete trust or confidence in someone or something’ and for us that someone is Jesus Christ.

There are times when we find ourselves in a tight situation and feel as though God is either not hearing our prayer or He has abandoned or forgotten us. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah offers us a very powerful analogy at how God looks at us: even if a mother is to forget the baby she has nursed (which is a rare occurrence), God can never forget His people and what more those who are troubled and conflicted. It is just that our worry has overwhelmed us that we don’t feel the presence of God temporarily.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes, “that the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” It is sure that we cannot avoid worry in the journey of life, but how we deal with it is very much in our hands. We can either worry ourselves to death or we can cast our worries onto the Lord and simply say like Mary, “let your will be done!” Perhaps we can only do that when we have the humility to acknowledge that we cannot control the outcome of everything and therefore in such situations, we have learn to say, let go and let God!