Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Thorns of Anxiety and Worry

“The sower sows the word….Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, it bears no fruit.” (Mark 4: 14, 18-19)

I came across this passage while I was reading the Gospel of Mark on the Blue Line subway train. It has stuck with me. If anything, this year has been full of anxiety for myself and for many people in this country. Many individuals are struggling to hold their lives together after losing their jobs. Those of us, who are still employed, have to deal with frozen wages, and the insecurity of our employment. Dwelling on this day after day can wear a person down. The anxiety, the worry, can distract us from God. we can lose touch with the Source of all Love and Hope. Prayer can sometimes seem worthless; God can feel very far away.

I am remembering now a story I heard on the public radio program, “Speaking of Faith.” It was told by a female rabbi and it was set in a World War II concentration camp. The Jewish prisoners were being worked to death, on meager rations, and violently abused. One day, one of the prisoners noticed a camp guard eating a sandwich that was wrapped in paper with Hebrew words on it. The prisoners bribed the guard with their rations to give them the paper. It turned out to be a page from the Torah, the Hebrew scripture. So after a day of hard labor and suffering, the Jewish prisoners would gather together in their barracks, and take turns reciting the Torah from that one page. Just hearing the Word of God, just reflecting daily on just a few words of Sacred Scripture, lifted their hearts amongst all their suffering; and gave them the strength to survive.

We can never stop turning to God. We cannot let our hearts be closed to the Word, but keep them open to its power. We must trust that Jesus Christ will be with us in our trials; “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28: 20). If, despite all our anxieties, and worries; we listen to the words of the Gospel and live them; we will indeed produce much fruit.

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