The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 8, 2017
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “Have no anxiety at all!” (Phil 4:6). If I could meet Saint Paul, I would ask him how is this possible. I think that he would answer: “Look at my letter to the Philippians. I explain how to conquer all anxieties there.”

The letter to the Philippians is not a kind of self-help book. Saint Paul is not a guru who will give us a magic technique or transcendental meditation to conquer anxiety!

I looked in the dictionary for definitions of anxiety and found the following: “Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,” and: “Anxiety is a state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation.”

First of all, anxiety is a “feeling” and a “state.” It is something caused by something else. We have feelings for people and for things. Our state of mind changes as we are provoked by external situations. We can say that anxiety is an effect but not the cause.

The cause of anxiety is the future, what is to happen. We experience anxiety when we think that what will happen will be against us.

Anxiety is the most common human feeling that we all have. Because of anxiety, insurance companies were created. However, sometimes they create more anxiety!

There are many examples of situations that cause us anxiety. We experience anxiety when we are waiting for the result of a medical exam, before taking a test at school, when we are called by our boss, when we hope our love will be reciprocated or when we do not know if we will have enough money to foot the bills etc.

The cause of anxiety is something that is not real. It is anticipation that things will be against us or at least there is a great probability that they will.

“Have no anxiety at all!”

Saint Paul says that the road to conquer anxieties is greater trust in God. He says: “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God” (Phil 4:6). The Apostle says that we need to put everything before God, to present all the causes of our anxieties.

Prayer helps us to understand that we are in God’s hands. We are not alone. Prayer makes us understand that everything, if lived with Jesus, is not an obstacle to our happiness.

Everything, even what is bad, could be the road to our destiny. Everything is positive! This is not easy to understand. That is why we need to pray, to pray with what we are, with our anxieties.

Prayer is not magic to solve problems: sometimes God solves them, sometimes not. However, it is a tool to find peace. That is why Saint Paul says: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7).

“Have no anxiety at all!.”

We ask for Saint Paul’s intercession to help us understand his words and live them.  Amen.

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