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“Do I Need to Worry?”
Deacon Mike Meyer / Sunday, February 27, 2022 / Categories: Blog, Homilies

“Do I Need to Worry?”

Homily for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

          On Thursday morning I woke to a text that asked, “Are we going to war? Do I need to worry?” Those two questions scrapped the homily I was preparing for this weekend. Truth be told, I was struggling with that homily anyway. You see, the first reading, the Psalm, and the Gospel present a series of seemingly disparate Wisdom sayings on how to live a good life, while our second reading goes in a completely different direction altogether: Christ’s victory over sin and death. I couldn’t find a common theme among them, other than the fact that three of the four readings talk about fruit, and I couldn’t choose which readings or sayings to address, since they’re all so good. Then, the news of Russia’s unconscionable invasion of Ukraine and those two questions chose for me.  

          The person who asked me those questions is prone to worry, so I didn’t want to say something that would make matters worse for her. That said, I’m not the kind of person who sugar coats an answer or avoids difficult subjects just to make someone feel better. So how did I answer? I said what I truly believe: “You don’t need to worry.” Texting, of course, doesn’t lend itself to long explanations, so I offered to talk, but she was satisfied with my response, and we left it at that. While her questions, at first blush, seem to demand a geopolitical analysis, that’s not the discipline in which my answer rests. I offered a faith-based response, and since homilies do lend themselves to long explanations, sit back while I force you to hear me out.

First, let’s start with a simple fact bluntly stated by Rose Castorini to her husband Cosmo in the movie Moonstruck: Someday, we’re gonna die. That simple fact, as hard as it may be to hear, offers us two choices: We can live our lives living; or we can live our lives dying. When we worry, we live our lives dying—we suffer the effects of potential future problems now, instead of waiting to deal with them if and when they happen to materialize. Worrying does us no good. To the contrary, worrying robs us of the fullness of life today, and that’s dying. Jesus says, “Be not afraid,” some seventeen times in the Gospels for a reason: he wants us to live, right now, in the peace and happiness of God’s Kingdom here on earth. So we never need to worry; we need to live.

Second, good always triumphs over evil. History, of course, is filled with wars, genocide, slavery, discrimination, abuse, and many more sins against God and humanity. But as Saint Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Love endures all things. Love never fails.” We Christians must never forget that through his passion, death, and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin and death forever. That’s the victory over sin and death that Saint Paul proclaims in our second reading, and that’s why we don’t need to worry. Jesus won the battle of good over evil for us. “Only a fool believes that he or she can get away with evil or that God is indifferent to good or evil works.”[1] Sure, evil hasn’t given up yet, and the Russian government’s aggression is proof of that, but evil is fighting a battle it already lost.

Third, we don’t need to worry because I see good conquering evil every day. After the earthquakes in Haiti, the tsunami in Japan and Indonesia, and the hurricanes here in the United States, humanitarian aid poured in from all over the world. When residents of a Flemington apartment complex lost their homes to fire, our communities donated money, clothing, housewares, and food to tide them over until they get back on their feet. When a parishioner fell ill, members of this faith community lined up to prepare meals, we sent get-well cards, and offered our prayers for a full and speedy recovery. And by this past Thursday evening, thousands of Russians filled the streets of several cities shouting, “No to war! Shame! Ukraine is not our enemy!” And now, people of good will are condemning this unjust war, sending aid, and storming the heavens with prayers. We don’t need to worry because good trees planted firmly in the fertile soil of God’s Kingdom are bearing good fruit all around us.

Finally, we don’t need to worry because our young people give us great hope. A little over a week ago, we held our first Youth Group meeting, and 25 young women and men showed up. This afternoon, we have altar server training, and 16 boys and girls signed up. That means that at least 41 young people right here in our parish have chosen (or were persuaded) to give a faith-based activity a chance. It means that the Holy Spirit is at work in the lives and hearts of our young people here at Saint Catherine’s. It means that our Church has a future. It means we don’t need to worry.

              There’s a lot to worry about these days, and yes, we will worry; and that’s ok. But we don’t need to worry. We need to have faith. In Saint Paul’s words: We need to “be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain.” We need to “join the great company of those who make the barren places of life fruitful with kindness” with the conviction that “the great and eternal realities are love and service.”[2] If we dedicate ourselves to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, as Bishop Checchio has urged us to do this Lent, we will change the world for the better. We’ll build the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth right now, one word and one deed at a time. And with God’s Kingdom in our midst, we certainly don’t need to worry.

Readings: Sirach 27:4-7; Psalm 92; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45

 

[1] Jeffrey Cole, ed., The Didache Bible (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2014), 682n.

[2] Fulton Sheen, Guide to Contentment, reprinted in Advent & Christmas with Fulton J. Sheen (Liguori, MO: Liguori Publications, 2001), 77.

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