You may be unaware, but I suffer from high levels of anxiety. I know it’s absurd, but it’s just my lot at this point in my life. Case in point: over the last four months, you’ve surely noticed that our offertory collections have been significantly higher. You’d think I’d be very happy…grateful for your stewardship of treasure, but the opposite has been true. You see, we can track our offertories week to week as the years go by and without much trouble we can regularly and accurately predict each week’s offertory. That hasn’t been the case during these months. I’ve been seeking the reason, but to no avail! The economy is still not that strong; we’ve not seen a huge increase in worshippers; our music & liturgy haven’t really changed that much…and my homilies aren’t any shorter. So, my anxiety levels have been up: why the sudden and drastic increase in giving? Why is it still staying up? How long will it last?
Well, thank the good Lord, last week it came back down to steady!
I know: it’s absurd for me to worry and be anxious…and these only confuse and confound me…and I’m distracted from the reality and truth that our people have been generously sharing from their treasure and that God is clearly blessing us. Yes, anxiety, distraction and the resulting confusion are not helpful, and yet, they are age-old challenges are they not?
St. Paul speaks of distractions and the cloudy focus they impart. Even in our first reading, we hear the Israelites praying NOT to hear the voice of God nor see His presence, erroneously thinking that either holy experience would lead to their doom. And even our Lord in today’s gospel experiences—in those present at the synagogue—how confusion keeps them blinded to who Jesus Christ really is. Sure, the crowd is fascinated by his teaching and they are enthralled by his miraculous works, but they fail to hear that he is “the Holy One of God”. No, the amazement over Jesus’ powers does not at all mean that the people believe in him…and so they miss a crucial and life-changing opportunity to accept the revelation of God’s chosen One.
May the same not be said of us: my each of us struggle with and, God-willing, overcome our many anxieties, distractions and resulting confusion; may we be able to see & hear Jesus for who he really is, and with the Holy Spirit’s aide, rejoice that He comes into our midst to share his life, death, and resurrection with us.