Antonio, P. Pueyo
5th Sunday of Easter
Reflections for Sunday April 24, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

There was a man who wanted to live a trouble-free life. He decided to live in a far-away island somewhere in the South Seas. Building a shelter was a matter of weaving the leaves of the coconut tree. Food came from the sea and the abundant tropical fuits. There were endless sunshiny days. The few native people around provided friendship and cheerful companionship. It was paradise. Then came World War II. Paradise turned into hell. The name of his island was Guadalcanal, the scene of bitter fighting between American and Japanese forces on land, sea, and air.

There are times when we wish for a less troubled life. In spite of all its conveniences, modern living has brought about a faster pace and more anxious way of life. The cellular phone, for example, makes life more complicated. We are accessible wherever we are. One has to make a decision as to when and where cell phones may be answered or not. I make it a point to put the cell phone aside when I am eating, driving, teaching, or praying. I reason out that if the message is not important, it can wait. If it is a real emergency, they will call somebody else to look for me.

There are more serious matters that trouble us. Many people are so poor, they are anxious about where to obtain the next meal. Parents worry about sending children to school. Owners of businesses worry about the survival of the enterprise during hard times. In war-torn areas, people worry for their lives. Farmers worry about their crops. Teenagers worry about their friendships. Old people worry about their security and health. There is no end to our worries.

Jesus' words in this Sunday's gospel addresses our worries, "Do not be troubled; trust in God, and trust in me" (Jn. 14:1).

These words do not guarantee that we would be exempt from troubles and difficulties. Rather, the words of the Lord show us the proper attitude to take, "Trust in God". This means God is bigger than our worries. God's grace is enough for us to be able to face our difficulties. We can turn over to God whatever troubles us. Jesus had to contend with gossip, intrigues, and political maneuverings. He had to face the cross. The Blessed Mother was not exempt from problems. In fact Simeon prophesied that her heart would be wounded because of her Son ( (Lk 2:35). Pope John Paul II, had to deal with the problems of the church and the world.

Trusting in God does not mean hiding our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, and denying the existence of problems. Trusting in God means accepting and facing reality. It means dealing with our problems knowing that even in worst-case scenarios, God will not allow us to be crushed and lost. We do our best with the proper means available to us and God will take care of the rest.

The Lord Jesus Christ invites us. "Where I am, you also may be" (Jn. 14:4). He invites us to a new state of life. He invites us to a certain quality of life that can be ours not just in the hereafter but here and now. This life is already here in the present. "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (Jn. 14:10). This life-in-God that we share with Jesus (Jn. 14:20), is what arms us against worries and anxieties. What an enormous concept -- God dwells in you and me. If so, God-in-me is bigger than my problems. No matter what happens, God will prevail.

In my ministry as a parish priest, I have met different kinds of people. There are those who seem to be always anxious about their lives, even if they are well off. There are people who live calm an d focused lives despite some insufficiencies. There are those who are fortunate to be well off and at the same time same time are not too anxious. There are the really unfortunate who are very poor and are constantly worried about daily existence.

At some point in our life, we could belong to any of these categories. As an action starter, we can ask ourselves, "What often worries me? Is it real or imagined? If real, what resources do I have to deal with it? What decisions have to be ma de? Then do it, with trust in God

P.S. Humor can be a good antidote for anxiety. It might be worthwhile to end with the sticker I read, "If you are worried about your face, face your worries."