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”If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” ~ George Burns (January 20, 1896 - March 9, 1996)

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:24-34), Jesus tackles the scourge of incessant worry, inviting his disciples ~ and us ~ to instead place our complete trust in Him. It’s a simple yet not-so-simple matter of faith. The Gospels themselves rest upon faith, remaining inspired at every turn by the very spirit of this divine virtue. Tomorrow’s Gospel passage for instance (Mark 4:35-41) tells the story of the disciples aboard a small boat that suddenly finds itself in stormy seas as Jesus is sound asleep on a cushion in the stern. In this tale, Jesus simply calms the stormy seas. Other times he allows them to rage, choosing instead to calm us Regardless of God’s will for our lives, despite the many crosses, we can always rest assured that we will be equipped with whatever we need to answer the proverbial bell.

“Do not worry about tomorrow,”Jesus advises them. “Tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” I’m reminded of the words of the great Winston Churchill, who once remarked “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” To quote an old Swedish Proverb, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”

As you reflect upon these words, ask yourself a question. Do you even remember what you were worrying about this time last year? I’m sure many of you will say it was COVID. If you’re reading this, obviously you survived it, as did 99.68% of the world's population, this despite the never-ending hysteria that gripped the world for over a year. This is by no means meant to diminish the tragedy that this virus wrought, but as Jesus also points out in today’s Passage, ruminating over it dod not add a single day to anyone’s life. In many respects, worry is like sitting in a rocking chair; it gives you something to do no doubt, but you never get anywhere.

Fact is, as Paul teaches us in today’s 1st Reading (2 Corinthians 12:1-10), we are in actuality made stronger through our trials and tribulations. Power is made perfect in weakness as he puts it. As such we should welcome life’s challenges as opportunities to grow in fortitude and perseverance. Yet few do. Saint Augustine often said “In all trouble, we should seek God. We should not set him over our troubles, but insteadwithin them.” Augustine knew that God could only relieve one of their anxiety if he or she clung firmly to Him. He discouraged those he ministered to from referring to trouble as “this thing” or “that thing” in particular. He knew that our entire earthly existence was comprised of hardships, problems and trouble. But he also knew that it was through the troubles we encountered during our earthly pilgrimage that we found God.

Over the last 200-300 years, we have been sold on this notion that science, technology and medicine can solve all of our issues. The last year or so has taught us how weak these disciplines are in relationship to the fragility of human life. Having a spiritual life is the most important thing. Ultimately we must place ourselves firmly in the Hands of the Lord. Sanctifying grace, a topic we’ve touched upon a few times in recent days, is that which is to be coveted and pursued. Nothing else will do.

If you have the presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in your soul, you have union with God while here on Earth. That means you can have an interior relationship with God no matter where you are. God will provide for all your needs. We are to seek first the Kingdom of God. Everything else comes 2nd, 3rd, 10th and 262nd. Best to take the advice of Saint Anthony of Paola, when he says “I strongly urge you to work for the salvation of your souls with prudence and diligence. Death is certain and life is short, vanishing like smoke.”

Our focus in this rapidly fleeting and passing world should be centered squarely on pursuing eternal life with the Communion of Saints. As such, I ask you to spend a few moments each day reflecting on the following series of short, simple questions, preferably while in Eucharistic Adoration:

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Can I be a Saint? Can I at least do one saintly thing today? Can I do two tomorrow?

And remember, if you’re worrying you ain’t praying. But if you’re praying, you ain’t worrying. Best to heed the words of Henry Ward Beecher, who once said “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”

Choose faith.

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