“Be not solicitous. Do not worry. Your Father knows what you need.”
The words of today’s Gospel, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, are among the most familiar passages of the entire Gospel. They constitute part of the proclamation of the New Law, in which Our Lord presents himself as the new Moses, sent by God to bring to its fulfilment the Revelation of God’s love for humanity.
It would seem there are at least two responses to this text, and we all oscillate between them both. The first is one of admiration for the purity and sublimeness of the doctrine. It rings true. God’s voice is only too clear. We all feel deep down this urge to abandon ourselves to God, not to worry about the future. But then comes the second attitude. That’s all very good and true, BUT life is hard, we need to make a living, we are surrounded by sharks and if we don’t defend ourselves, we will starve to death on the street!
That is precisely why Our Lord is so insistent. “Do not live like the pagans! They spend all their time and energy providing for their temporal prosperity, making sure that for the morrow they will have all they need and more.”
But does the Lord really forbid us to make plans for the future? Certainly not. What He forbids is the worrisome attitude that precludes the absolute and total abandonment of ourselves to God. We are always falling back into the attitude of one who is alone and has to do everything for himself. Our Lord’s words remind us that we are not alone, but that there is Someone greater than us, who holds the world and our life in the palm of His hand, who cares more for us than we do for ourselves. It is an act of supreme wisdom to trust an omnipotent good God. As St Teresa of Avila said: “He knows all things, He can do all things, and He loves us!”
But we can go a step further, and seek to identify the underlying cause for our Lord’s injunction. By forcefully pointing out to us that we must not be solicitous for tomorrow, that we must not worry about our food, our drink, our clothing, our housing…., is He not inviting us to make a supreme act of trust and confidence in His infinite goodness? And if that is true, would it not mean that if we fail to do so, we are lacking confidence in God? And what could be more painful to the heart of God than to see His children mistrusting Him, going about their lives as if everything depended on them, and forgetting that there is an all-loving God?
Whatever might be our place in life, today’s Gospel is there to remind us that, by handing over all our worries into the Heart of Our Lord – even while we go about providing for ourselves –, we give Him immense joy, for then he knows that we trust Him. And what could please more the heart of a father than to experience the unconditional trust of his child?
From the perspective of the world, tomorrow does seem bleak. There are dark clouds on the horizon. But if we are men of faith, we cannot remain at that level. We must remind ourselves constantly that we are loved. Things might get worse. The worse they get, the more we need to trust, for the greater the need, the greater honour we do to God by trusting that He will sort things out.
Such was the message of Our Lord to Father Dolindo Ruotolo: “Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of all your affairs to Me and everything will be so peaceful. I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind and complete surrender to Me will produce the effects that you desire and will resolve all your difficult situations. O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!… And when I must lead you on a path so different from the one you see, I will prepare you and I will carry you in My arms. I will let you find yourself, just like children who have fallen asleep in their mother’s arms, on the other side of the river. What troubles you and hurts you so greatly are your reason and your thoughts and your worry and also your desire at all costs to deal with what afflicts you. O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!…You are sleepless, you want to judge everything, direct everything and see to everything. And you surrender to human strength and worse to men themselves, trusting in their intercession. This is what blocks My words and My views. How much I wish from you this surrender, so I can help you. And how I suffer when I see you so very agitated. Satan tries to do exactly this, to agitate you and to remove you forever from My protection and to push you into the grip of human concerns. So trust only in Me, rest in Me and surrender to Me in everything. O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!”