Have no anxiety, Paul tells us. How can we possible not have anxiety? It just seems impossible, especially this year. If I asked you to tell me bad news, I bet all of you could come up with several things right away. If I asked you to tell me good news, what would you say? If you say that there isn’t any good news, then I will say that you are wrong, that you aren’t thinking about or paying attention to what is good.
Paul tells us in our second reading, his letter to the Philippians, that our minds should always be focused on things that are good and positive, on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, things that are of excellence and worthy of praise. It is through all those things that the peace of God remains with us.
Now you may think, that’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean the things that cause us worry will go away. Well, you’re right, they won’t. But it will help to not fall into anxiety and depression. Paul is writing this letter from prison, and he is in danger of death, but his focus is on the continuing spread of the gospel, the goodness the Philippians have shown him, and encouraging them to rejoice. Paul shows that you can face these challenges and worries with a strong faith and confidence. Have no anxiety, but turn to God with prayer, petition and thanksgiving, and make your requests known to him, for we can place our trust and confidence in him, and we can receive his peace.
This is because Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, of joy, of life everlasting. If the world rejects Him, civility and charity, then they’ve foolishly done so. In our eyes, the foundation of Christ is wonderful. Jesus is the cornerstone that will last, that will support us and preserve us.
Both Isaiah and Jesus give us the metaphor of the vineyard. There’s a hedge to give it structure, a tower to provide protection, and a winepress to produce fruit. God has given us the structure, protection and producing of fruit through his Church and the sacraments.
Baptism which forgives all sins, gives us a share in God’s own life through sanctifying grace, and makes us children of God.
Confirmation which pours out the Holy Spirit, which enables us to live and witness the Faith maturely.
The Eucharist which gives us as our spiritual food the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.
Holy Orders gives men the power to teach, rule, and sanctify the people of God that he gave the Apostles.
Matrimony which raises the natural institution of marriage to a means of sanctification for spouses so they can help each other and their children and contribute to the common good.
Penance forgives sins committed after Baptism.
Anointing of the Sick helps the faithful face serious illness and death.
God gives us all the means, he has built for us the structure, he has given us the blueprint, he has taken care of the hard work. So then it comes down to us. Do we allow ourselves to be cultivated, or do we become wild?
If we allow ourselves to be cultivated and properly nourished, we will be in right relationship with God, we will be more secure and confident, we will be more aware and experience God’s great love for us, along with his promise to restore all things in Christ. If we remain wild, we will remain anxious and worried, turning toward things that will not save. If you only focus on the troublesome, you will live a troublesome life. If you only focus on the worries, you will live a worried life. And that is no way for Christian to live.
Instead of sharing anger, share joy. Instead of sharing criticism, share charity. Instead of sharing worry, share hope. Let Jesus Christ be the cornerstone of your life, so that the joys of God’s Kingdom will be with you always.