WHY BE ANXIOUS?
Why be anxious? This is a very simple but profound question. It appears that this life is built upon anxiety. As soon as one problem is resolved another arises in its place. There is a never ending cycle of conflict and resolution. We all live fast-paced lifestyles that demand quick results and, when they are not forthcoming, frustration abounds. This leads to anxiety. I feel we all can relate to this feeling: the tightening of the stomach, headaches, quick tempers, and intolerance for even the smallest of things. This occurs so often that it has become an accepted part of life. The danger that it actually presents is cloaked in this complacency. What is actually happening through these actions is the building of a wall: a wall between us and God. During the mass, after the Our Father is recited, the priest recites a particular prayer, asking God to relieve us from all anxiety. The presence of this prayer emphasizes how important it is to be unburdened from these feelings because they are so dangerous.
Try to recall the last time we felt anxious. It is fair to assume that the presence of God was far from our thoughts; our spirituality impeded. There was a disconnect that prevented us from being consoled by Him Our thoughts and our physical reaction to them actually pushed God away from us and that is a very dangerous place to be. Separating ourselves from God, for whatever reason, allows Satan to creep in and enriches the soil of our souls for sin to grow. We become disordered in our thoughts and feelings. We put ourselves in a dangerous place. We are isolated and vulnerable to attack. In this state, we further alienate ourselves by blaming God for this condition; enabling ourselves to become even angrier at our state of affairs.
Jesus knows our weaknesses and cries for us, wanting to bring us comfort and love. Yet we struggle against this simple solution of letting go. We need to stop this battle and surrender completely. Know that Jesus is Lord and he does in fact have all the solutions. The power of prayer can overcome all of this negativity and bring our relationship with Him into a perfect state where we can actually see how simple the solutions really are. We created the circumstances of our misery in the first place. Jesus tells us there is no need to feel this way. Why dwell on the mere physical aspects of our existence and ignore that which is the eternal? As we are told in the Gospel Reading today, we need to focus on Jesus Christ and our eternal existence with him. When we contemplate Jesus and ourselves in these terms, then the material anxieties which can easily become our main focus, are revealed as the minor things that they really are in comparison to Jesus who is everything.
Celebrating the First Sunday of Advent offers a perfect opportunity for us to realize just this. As the first candle is lit, we are asked to reflect on our relationship with Jesus and to repair the damage that we have done in our relationship through repentance: we are asked to confront our sins, ask for forgiveness, and make a commitment to strengthen our relationship with Him who offers us eternal salvation. We are encouraged to push our anxieties away to clear a path towards Jesus who is waiting for us with open arms. Instead of anxiety there should be joyful expectation about a life with Jesus Christ: a wonderful life rich in celebration and exultation. Smile because Jesus loves you and when you know that you are loved then you can spread that very same love throughout the world.
This world was created out of love and when we react to that love we can then accept everything that comes our way knowing that, in the end, Jesus would never allow that which may cause us anxiety to overcome us.