I should like you to be free of anxieties. (I Corinthians 7:32)
For our second readings at Sunday Mass, we are in the middle of reading selections from St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. St. Paul wrote to his beloved Corinthian Christians to help them resolve the numerous problems they had.
In the church in Corinth, there were factions with conflicting teachings. Some of the Corinthian Christians considered themselves too good for the rules. Some liked to show off their wealth. One of them sued a brother Christian in a court of law. And everyone was scandalized by the outrageous behavior of one of the members.
St. Paul lamented that the Christians in Corinth were indistinguishable from their pagan neighbors. He wondered whether they had received the grace of God in vain. The Corinthian Christians were buffeted and disturbed by all the worldly pettiness that buffets and disturbs people who do not know God.
As we just read, the Apostle wrote: “I should like you to be free of anxieties.” I should like you to “adhere to the Lord without distraction.”
Free of anxieties. Adhering to the Lord without distraction. Brothers and sisters, the Scriptures teach us how to do this—how to be free from anxiety so that we can adhere to the Lord without distraction.
Do you want me to give you the short version or the long version of how to accomplish this? Don’t get anxious! Stay calm. I will give you the short version.
In the beginning, God made everything good. In the Garden of Eden, there was no occasion for anxiety. No stress. No economic recessions. No job cuts. No credit-card debt. No suffering of any kind.
The ancient pagans thought that the gods made the human race just to toy with us, like boys torture worms under a magnifying glass in the sun. The modern pagans have a similar idea. They think that random forces govern the universe, forces that don’t care whether we human beings live or die.
But the pagans are wrong. God sent His Son to teach us the truth.
In the beginning, the Lord created us for paradise. We sinned, and our minds were darkened and our hearts depraved. But God had a plan for dealing with it. He has a perfect plan for our redemption and salvation. The Garden of Eden is nothing compared with the Kingdom that God has prepared for us to inherit as members of His Son’s Church.
Christ gives us the knowledge that frees us from anxiety and distraction. We were made by God. We were made for God. Our lives are nothing other than the story of God’s loving us into existence and then loving us home to Him.
Alright…I promised to give you the short version of the cure for anxiety. How can we do it—be free from anxiety and adhere to the Lord without distraction? Even St. Paul admitted to being anxious in his second letter to the Corinthians. He wrote: “Here we groan…While we are still on earth, we sigh with anxiety.”
What is the remedy? The short answer is: Keep the Sabbath. Keep the Sabbath.
How do we keep the Sabbath? Obviously, we keep it by coming to Mass. We keep it by praying. But there is more, something very, very important: We keep the Sabbath by resting in God.
The Lord supports us all the time. He holds up the foundations of the earth. We would more than just collapse without God’s support—we would cease to exist.
The Sabbath is when we remember this. The Sabbath is when we let go of everything else we hold on to, so that we can feel the Lord supporting us. On the Sabbath we know: His grip is sure. The support we have from God is unfailingly firm.
Difficult, disappointing things can happen. Our favorite teams can lose. Economies can go down. Planes can crash. Bridges can collapse.
The support we have from the Lord will never waver. It will never weaken. Christ is stronger than death. The Lord is an eternal rock!
The anxieties and distractions that plague our minds are temporary. Monday through Saturday are temporary days. Monday through Saturday are earthly days. Sunday is eternal. Sunday is the heavenly day. Sunday is for resting and rejoicing like we will rest and rejoice in heaven when our long, hard pilgrimage is over.
Someday we will not have to work for our bread anymore. Someday there will be no more bills. Someday we will come into our own, like we have always thought we could, but were never quite able to—on this earth of contradictions and unfulfilled hopes.
The paradise we seek is in the Sacred Heart of Christ. At every moment of His pilgrim life, even when He was hanging on the cross, His heart was an oasis of perfect peace—perfect trust, and love for the Father. The centurion and the good thief saw this, even when the Lord was struggling with His last gasping breath. Today is the day for us to rest in the infinite divine love that Christ has revealed.