Pastor's Corner

Have no Anxiety  

January 28, 2024

“Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties (1 Corinthians 7:32).” These words of Saint Paul begin our second reading for this Sunday’s Mass. We also hear at every Mass, shortly after the Our Father, these words (emphasis added): 

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days,

that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin

and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope

and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

We pray at every Mass that we find ourselves safe from all distress – not some of our distress, not most of our distress, but all of our distress. What a loving Father in Heaven we have! It is telling that the petition for keeping us safe from all distress is closely linked to us always being free from sin. In this way, our liturgy conveys to us that the most significant source of distress in our lives is sin – either our own personal sin or the sins of others. How are we to accomplish this? First and foremost, we must not rely on our weak attempts but rather stand on the solid rock of God’s love and power in our lives. 

In that same reading, Saint Paul discusses how the anxieties of those who are married and those who remain unmarried are different. His point is that if you are married, your anxieties multiply because of the need to care for your spouse and children, home, and work. He contrasts that level of anxiety with those who remain unmarried and are therefore free to remain anxious or concerned solely with the ways of the Lord. This is not meant to put down those who are married; it instead highlights the need to have priests, religious, and consecrated celibates as a significant part of the community so that they may affirm by their lives that we can have faith in Christ Jesus. 

Saint Paul wrote this letter early in his career, and the opinion that Jesus will return very soon remains in his writings. Closer to the end of Saint Paul’s life, he refines this teaching to recognize that Jesus has yet to return, and we are still waiting on that return almost 2000 years later. So what are we to make of this division between married and unmarried and the concerns or anxieties that they have? We must acknowledge the truth behind what he is saying. The religious life and the married life are both beautiful expressions of God’s love. Still, those who are married often have more realities to worry about. This doesn’t mean that the religious are better than those who are married. Far from it! Indeed, the religious need married couples in their lives to keep them grounded in the daily concerns of life, while the married rely on the religious to point them to their ultimate destination, the heavenly banquet and union with God.

Two Parishes, One Heart

Fr. Adam