A young mother was at her wit’s end when her phone suddenly rang.
“Oh mother,” she sobbed. “I don’t know what to do. The baby was up all night sick and still won’t go back to sleep. The house is upside down, and we are having company for dinner tonight. Nothing is getting done, and I don’t even know where to begin.”
“Please, Dear, stop crying,” the woman replied. “Go take care of the baby. I will go to the market for you and pick up the groceries you’ll need for supper. When I get to the house, I will help you tidy up, and we can prepare supper together. When we’re done, I will take the baby for the night so that you can enjoy your guests and get a good night sleep. Before I leave, I will call Charlie and let him know that everything is taken care of.”
The young mother was confused. “Who’s Charlie?”, she asked.
“Why, Dear, Charlie is your husband,” the woman replied.
“My husband’s name isn’t Charlie. It’s Brad,” she said.
“Is this 555-7755?” The woman asked.
“No. It’s 555-7557.”
“Oh no. I’m afraid I’ve dialed the wrong number”, the woman said.
The young woman cried out, “Does that mean you’re not coming over?!”
When we are feeling overwhelmed and do not even know where to begin, it is natural for us to turn to our parents for help. However, they can only do so much. Nonetheless we have a Heavenly Father who knows all our needs and can provide them. He never calls the wrong number but comes to our assistance whenever the burdens of life become too much to bear.
This is the lesson the Israelites learned in the desert shortly after they were freed from slavery in Egypt. Though their captivity was bitter and cruel, they had grown accustomed to never having to worry about having enough to eat. Now the long trek through the hot desert and the hunger they experienced began to make them wonder whether slavery was not so bad after all. God answers by providing abundant manna in the morning and quail in the evening. He shows Himself to be their all-loving Father by not only freeing them from slavery but providing for them on the way to the land He promised them. In the same way He promises to provide for us no matter how great or small our need may be.
In the second reading, Saint Paul encourages us not to live as the Gentiles do. They are stressed out worrying about their needs and are focused solely on how to satisfy themselves. As Christians, we must have a different attitude. We have to eat and work and make a living for ourselves just as unbelievers do. However, we know that we do not have to rely on our own power to meet our needs. We know that we can also rely on our Heavenly Father to bear our burden with us, to carry us when we are unable to go on and to comfort us when the cares of life paralyze us.
We are different from unbelievers not only because we rely on our Heavenly Father, but also because our values and priorities are different. Like the Israelites who wandered through the desert on the way to a promised land, we live our earthly life with our hope fixed on an eternal life with God in heaven. We understand that this world is passing away and that a better world is awaiting us with God. Through faith, we perceive that what seems of utmost importance today will eventually be of little consequence. So, as Jesus tells us, we do not only work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. Along with our jobs, we take time to pray, to read the Scriptures and receive the Sacraments. We nourish not only our bodies but our souls knowing that both are destined to share eternal life with our Heavenly Father.
That attitude also helps us to endure all the many hardships of life. We know that all things can work for our good. No matter what trials or sufferings we endure, God can use them to strengthen our spirits. Through the difficulties of life God teaches us patience, compassion and perseverance. Even when we face unemployment, sickness and poverty, we trust that God will give us what we need to get through it and that, when this earthly life has ended, the virtues we gained will remain with us. Therefore, we have no reason to fear because our Heavenly Father is in control, and we can trust that He will never forsake us.
Saint Francis de Sales has a beautiful prayer for those of us who find ourselves nurturing regrets over our past or worrying about the future: “Father, I offer up my past to your mercy, my future to your providence and my present to your faithfulness.” At this Mass, God renews His promise to us by offering us the bread from heaven. It is the true bread that endures for eternal life given to us who believe. We receive this bread, the Body of our Lord, with joy knowing that through it we will be strengthened not only to endure the trials of this life but to pass through to the unending joys of the life to come.