BY Canon Gerry Conroy, Parish priest of St Patrick’s
It’s obvious that people are anxious during this time and given the present scenario, it is understandable if anxiety levels are increasing in some people.
That anxiety however can manifest itself in different unhealthy ways: we can become obsessed with listening to the latest news as if we were addicted to it, other addiction levels can increase, already short tempers can become shorter, we can become more easily agitated.
One thing faith can tell us in the midst of all of this is that anxiety is a very human thing to have because our world isn’t perfect; it’s torn apart by sin and division and anxiety is a natural human reaction to experiencing that. Christ himself in the garden of Gethsemane experienced it.
He met it with prayer and if it didn’t make the anxiety disappear altogether, the prayer gave him the strength and the courage he needed to deal with the anxiety and to face what was coming.
We celebrate this week the feast of All Saints. Sometimes we can get the idea that these people were perfect, or at least if they weren’t perfect, they somehow or other, because of their sanctity were preserved from the harshness of life that the rest of us experience; we might even think that they didn’t know the anxieties we have to face or the daily worries that life ambushes us with.
But the reality is that they experienced the exact same things we do. Why we honour them is because they had the courage to face them and to continue in fidelity to Christ despite them.
The Beatitudes in the Gospel capture that. Christ spoke of people who realised that this world is broken that it is torn apart by sin and division, but they didn’t give up on it.
They didn’t withdraw into laments and cursing about their fate or the hardships they faced. They were willing to confront the situation with hope; they tried to live with integrity and truth in a world that at times seemed despairing of its situation and reduced to accepting the presence of sin and division in their lives.
Saints are those among us who confront the world with hope and persevere in what faith has told them to be true. Where does their hope come from? It comes from Christ who reveals the love and mercy of God on the cross and in the resurrection. We may at times be anxious, we may be fearful, but we also have hope and we trust in God and so we live faithful to him and his command to love God and to love one another.