Having been in New York City on Sept. 11, the experience of recent weeks feels like walking back through that moment, but in slow motion and at lower volume. Efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus have brought life, as we know it, nearly to a grinding halt. In addition to health concerns, the economic impact has now added financial concerns as well. We certainly are living in a remarkable time of uncertainty, change and anxiety. In this moment, however, our Lord’s words in the following passage from Matthew’s Gospel offer great consolation and guidance:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your lifespan?
“Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Matt 6: 5-35).
In this passage, the Lord tells us precisely what we are to do and not do: trust in him, and do not let anxiety overcome us. After all, can any of us, “by worrying, add a moment to our lifespan?” The dramatic current events remind us that we truly are not in control. Yet our faith and trust in God allow us to be at peace, even now. We know that God is aware of our needs and worries, and he promises to provide for us, asking us to seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and put our trust in him.
Jesus, we trust in you.
Mike Christie is Director of Evangelical and Catechetical Services at the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.