March 2, 2014 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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How Can I not worry?

I have a dear friend who is struggling with cancer. She is 24 years old, and by the time you read this reflection, she will probably be with God. We are all so worried about her and I know that she has been very scared and worried about what is to happen.
When we are face to face with the unknown, how can we do anything else but worry? We worry about our children, our futures, our college selections, our friends, if we are fitting in, peer pressure, and even the weather. I find myself sometimes worrying about how I’m going to provide for my family or how I’m going to get through the next month to feed them. I believe these scripture readings today leave a message of hope for those who are facing the great unknowns, especially death.
When I do youth retreats and talks, I will sometimes ask those present: “What is most important to you?” The response most of the time is: “Family and friends.” Then I ask them to prove it. But no one can prove it with words or even actions. Our words and actions, our traditions and rituals, are not enough to express that family and friends are most important in our lives. They only give a hint of they joy we feel when we hold our children or a dear loved one. Just like trying to prove God. It can’t be done. The common understanding among all faiths is that God is ineffable (i.e., too great or too extreme to be described by words), just like Love.
For me, because of all that I have experienced in life, especially through the joy of being a parent, I have come to know that Love, even though I can’t explain it or fully express it in word or deed, truly exists. Since I can fully trust this Truth, it allows me to accept faith in our God, who is Love and so massively present to us that sometimes it feels like nothing. Just like the air we breathe. It’s so present, I don’t even notice it, but it’s real and it’s there.
When my father died of stomach cancer, I had the chance to sit with him on his deathbed and tell him how much I loved him. Being one of 4 adopted children I saw him work two jobs and sacrifice so much for us to have food, clothes and a house to live in. Because he loved us so much, he sacrificed himself and gave his life for what he loved the most. He worried about us, and how he was going to provide when there was job loss and not much money. But I saw him remain faithful that somehow, even in the struggle, God was present and would provide him with the opportunity to provide for his family.
As I grew to a teenager, I watched him go through a regular cycle of worry, followed by faith, followed by a calm that all would be well. As I watched him struggle and suffer with his illness, I never saw the worry part of the cycle. He was always faithful that God had him in an everlasting embrace. Before he died he told me how fast life goes and for me not to worry about him and to live life everyday as if it were my last. His final teaching to me was that only in God is our soul at rest. He taught me that we have only two choices in life: faith or despair. One leads to peace and one leads to a restless worried heart.
As my friend Charli gets closer to her departure from this life, I see her choosing faith too. Even though she is so young to face death, she has chosen faith. I believe her witness, just like my father’s witness, will allow us to have faith that God is in control even when we think the world is a mess. Let us hear the message of these scriptures today and allow them to penetrate our worried hearts so that we can be a living sign of hope to all those we meet that God is present in sacrament and sign and holds us just like a mother holds her child in her loving arms. So don’t worry, be faithful.

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