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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Oct. 2, 2011

By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

October 2, Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 5:1-7

Psalm 80:9, 12-16, 19-20

2) Philippians 4:6-9

Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43

In this week's second reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, we are told to have no anxiety at all. As I read this I thought, "Have you seen today's paper?"

Whether in the television news, the daily paper, on the radio or Internet blogs, there are constant reminders of troubling things happening these days. From earthquakes and hurricanes to flooding and wildfires, to unemployment and a collapsed economy, to famine and war, not to mention personal struggles with relationships and illnesses, there sure is a lot of reason to freak out a bit.

The Scripture reading brought to mind a song from the 1980s, "Don't Worry Be Happy." But with all this stuff going on, simply not worrying and being happy seems an ostrichlike, head-in-the-sand kind of attitude.

As I kept reading St. Paul's letter, I discovered that the message is not so much that we are not to worry, rather it is more this: Instead of worrying, try praying and petitioning God with thanksgiving. If we do this, instead of the fear and unease that come with anxiety, we will receive "the peace of God that surpasses all understanding." As if this were not enough, St. Paul says this peace will also guard our hearts and minds in Jesus.

I remember one time when I faced a huge decision. The consequences of the choice would affect many people and would quite possibly change my life dramatically. I fretted over all the possible scenarios and implications for weeks. My mind and my heart were doing battle, with my desires and loyalties as weapons. Round and round options and opportunities swirled in my mind. I shared this with a friend, and she said, "Don't think about it, just do what you can and trust the Holy Spirit."

I think this is the message from St. Paul. Worrying can drive us crazy, but if we let go of our need to be in control and offer our heartfelt prayers to God, peace will come. That doesn't mean the problems go away or that the going will get easier; it is just a promise that God will walk with us and bring us peace on the journey.


How do you typically handle stressful situations? How has your faith helped in these situations? What are some things you can do to let go of the worry and trust in God?


"The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).


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