Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 28, 2018)

St. Paul tells us in today’s reading “to be free of anxiety.” St. Francis de Sales gives us some advice on how to cope with anxiety:

There is a real temptation to become dissatisfied with the world and distressed about it when we have of necessity to be in it. We imagine we would feel better if we were on another ship. That may be, but only if we change ourselves! Solitude has its assaults, the world its busyness. In either place we must be courageous since in either place divine help is available to those who trust in God and who humbly and gently beg for God’s caring assistance.

One of the sources of our anxieties is our self-centered love. Why are we surprised by our imperfections? We want nothing but consolation. When we experience our own misery and weaknesses, let us do three things and we will have peace. Let us have a pure intention of seeking in all things, the honor and glory of God. Let us do the little we can toward this end and leave to God the care of the rest.

These little attacks of anxiety and sadness that are brought on by the multiplicity of our responsibilities permit us to practice the dearest and best virtues that Jesus recommended to us: gentleness and trust in God. True virtue is not produced by outward idleness, anymore than healthy fish are raised in the stagnant waters of swamps.

To protect ourselves from surprise attacks of anxiety, where we become resentful and ready to flare up if any one crosses us, we must often arouse in our hearts patience and courage. But when we do totter and fall, we must not be ashamed of being a little grimy and dusty. It is better to be covered with dust than with sores. If we place ourselves in God’s care and let the heavenly dew of God’s love heal us, all will be well.