The first words in today’s gospel are “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Pretty interesting words at a time when we all have health, family, employment and/or financial stresses to deal with as a result of Covid 19. So, how do we not let our hearts be troubled during these strange times? Let me suggest two ways.
Times like this, when we are deprived of things we are used to doing or having, can either solicit resentment for the way things are now…or gratitude for what we had and for what we still have. And you know what? Although we might not be able to control a knee jerk reaction to situations from time to time, it really is up to us to choose one of those attitudes. Isn’t it true, on reflection and usually from our own personal experience, the more time we spend being upset at something or someone, the less happy we are? We resent, focus on our(poor)selves, become self-centered and sad. But if we can be grateful for the times we had and be grateful for all the things we still do have, then we invariably are happier. There is a hard-wired equation that God has placed in our nature as human beings: Gratitude = Happiness. But as a result of our fallen nature there is another equation at work inside of us; Resentment=Sadness. It’s our choice.
Here’s the second suggestion. One aspect of these days is the amount of time we physically spend with people. Husbands and wives are now locked in together all day! (“Well dear, we got married for richer or poorer, for better or worser…but not for lunch”) Children are also frequently now in the mix with their parents twenty-four, seven. Yikes! Yet being locked in, none of us get to see all the other people who mean a lot to us; friends, relatives, co-workers etc. With less things to do and places to go, and with spending all of (or none of) our time with the important people in our lives, doesn’t it make you think about the importance of all those relationships? Want to un-trouble your heart? Give yourself to all those important relationships in your life! Sure, your spouse or children may be doing some things to irritate you and you are not used to spending all this time together in close quarters, but now’s the time to be especially kind and serve them. Get your wife a coffee, give your husband a compliment, hug your children. Tell them how much you love them-do it today. And yes, you can’t visit your relatives and friends but you can call or Facetime them on the phone. Tell them, too, how much you love them. And speaking of relationships, let’s use this as a great time to deepen our relationship with God. How about spending a few minutes a day reading and reflecting on the readings of the day? You can find them here http://www.usccb.org/.
So, do you want to un-trouble your heart? Let’s be grateful and give ourselves to our relationships. It works, not because it is some psychological trick, but because it’s the way God made us.