Sunday, May 31, 2009

10-5-2008: 27th Ordinary Time

Isaiah 5:1-7/Psalm 80/Philippians 4:6-9/Matthew 21:33-43
“Have no anxiety at all.” So says St. Paul, writing to the Philippians. Easy for him to say – he didn’t own any mutual funds. As of this writing the anxiety which surrounds the economic freefall is palpable. Legislators are losing their cool, left and right. Barney Frank looks even more sloppy than usual, Nancy Pelosi has pulled back her hair, and George Bush’s eyes are more crossed than ever. And though all is still up in the air, and economic security hangs precariously on a thin limb, our elected officials (mostly goys) have gone back home for Rosh Hashanah.

The deeply troubling thing is the ever-increasing awareness on the layman’s part that no one, absolutely no one, seems to know what to do or how to do it. This, the pundits say, is the epitome of a crisis of confidence in government. No emerging leader (not even in the wings) seems imminent; and the inherent weakness of democratic government becomes ever more evident. Far from dispelled, anxiety has become the very air we breathe.

In the midst of such chaos, how is it possible to heed St. Paul’s advice and dispel that anxiety from mind and heart? The answer he poses is counterintuitive: be thankful. Gratitude in the midst of scarcity seems pointless, but Paul insists it’s the only way. Being grateful for what seems to be less turns the less into more (Economics 101 according to Paul). At least it might help us begin to view the worth and wealth of our lives apart from our treasure, and even apart from the security which a treasured portfolio once provided. It’s certainly a challenge -- and greater challenges may be yet to come. But the hardest arithmetic to master, someone once said, is that which enables us to count our blessings -- especially in hard times. You might not need a calculator at first: fingers will suffice. Until you get the hang of it, that is – then, not even a brand new computer with mega gigabytes of memory would be able to enumerate the bountiful blessings bestowed on even one humble life freed of anxious worry.

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