I was born with an imperfection. I am allergic to chilli. Smelling chilli, especially when fried, will cause my scalp to itch. Eating it causes me to sweat profusely. In company, I was self-conscious and do not know how to say, “I can’t”, and so end up with a drenched shirt and being even more embarrassed. I began worrying when I had to meet people for a meal. Soon enough I developed a fear. Today I can sweat just by looking at spicy food on my laptop.
We live in a world that expects success. Success at all cost does not hesitate to leave a person behind. Fierce competition among businesses has filtered down to be among individuals. Curriculum in schools are getting more demanding to prepare our young to meet this expectation of success. Money is a common measure of success. But money is also a much-needed necessity for people who do not have enough. A lot of people are being thrown into a race we are ill-prepared for or have no capacity to run in.
Today, many of our lives are being consumed by worry. We start to sweat thinking about the future. Expectations these days bring fear instead of anticipation. Worry has become a modern-day suffering. And worry is about an imaginary future that may not even happen.
“Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.” (Today’s Gospel)
God cannot be present in imaginary futures. He is present in the reality of our life in the here and now. He acts in the now. When we worry, our thoughts go into a tailspin. It blows away all clarity. Worry loosens the grip on every of our logical thoughts. Everything is blown away from our ‘now’ into the chaotic, imaginary future. But worry tightens the grip on hope. When we worry, hope is the only thing left in the now. God is this hope, always present to us and he says, “Do not be afraid”.
The world will continue to strive for its success. Humanity has this responsibility to keep developing and progressing. God is present in this and say to us to trust him to provide for the world. With this faith, we as parts of the one body of humanity are tasked to take care of one another so that no one will be left behind. “Sin” (Second Reading) enters this delicate equation through you and me when we put “self” before God and others. “Do not be afraid” can ring a new tone. Our actions can make others afraid of us. We can cause worry.
All of us are people of influence. What we do, or not do, directly affect others in our homes, social circles, and workplaces. The “sin” is hidden in the excuse of having to progress and succeed. There are many silent sufferers out there. We are called to use our influence in a different way to become the handle of hope for others to have a firmer grip on this presence of God in the now. In the weary ways of the world, we are called to stand up for God so that through us people will no longer be afraid and worry.
We must bathe fear and worry not with sweat but with compassion.
‘So if anyone declares himself for me in the presence of men, I will declare myself for him in the presence of my Father in heaven. But the one who disowns me in the presence of men, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time