Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2005
Scriptural Reference: Philippians 4:6-9
St. Paul has such wonderful advice for us in today’s reading from his letter to the Philippians that I can hardly imagine a single one of us not needing this advice. So I am glad you are all here, not to listen to me, but to what he writes: “Brothers and sisters, have no anxiety at all but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Show me a person who has no anxieties – no fears – one who does not worry. Some of us, are of course, worse than most, but all of us have something or other that bothers us, takes hold of our heart and mind and manages to concoct the worst scenario. It may be about one’s health, one’s job, one’s finances, a lawsuit, an exam, a past sin, a misunderstanding in the family or among friends - at times something totally imaginary, even wondering what one’s mind is capable of making real.
It may be an occasional sleepless night where thoughts are darker than the darkest night – to the point that life hardly seems worth living.
With so many different reasons to worry, how can St. Paul say “have no anxiety.” Well, he means it and simply tells us to “make your requests known to God” and thereby find peace. It seems simplistic, naïve, impossible. St. Paul does not even say that God will do something to change the situation. He simply says “make your requests known to God”.
Mysteriously it works because worrying does not make anything better. It actually puts us in a worse frame of mind to make good decisions.
If we worry and nothing happens, we worried for nothing. If we worry and something terrible happens, did the worrying prepare us to face the crisis or wear us down so that we cannot face the crisis?
Bringing our requests to God, instead of worrying is going to the right place for a solution, if there is one and to fulfill God’s will if that is what we have to do. No matter what happens to me, if I become convinced that it is God’s will in my life, there will be a redeeming benefit.
Not worrying does not mean that we do not do our best to work out issues and problems. Something terrible looming over the horizon is an invitation to turn to God on the one hand and to seek help we need to get through the crisis on the other.
Even on the human level, when something is weighing on me and I am tempted to isolate and worry, I know full well the best thing I can do is confide in a true friend, even when I know the person cannot do much to help. Knowing there is someone to turn to is a great comfort. I think we all experience that so, in our belief and trust in God, being able to bring our requests to God is likewise comforting and putting what we cannot handle by ourselves into hands that have more power.
Have you heard the saying: “Worrying is an insult to God’s intelligence.”
I propose St. Paul’s alternative to worrying – bring your requests to God – find true peace.