Fr. Kevin had just finished his rounds visiting sick patients when he stepped into the hospital chapel to pray.
In the front pew, he noticed a woman gently crying as she looked up to the tabernacle. At first, he was not sure whether he should go up and comfort her. However, he sensed that she just needed time alone with the Lord.
Then, she opened up her pocketbook and threw four envelopes on the floor in front of the altar. At that point, Fr. Kevin began to wonder if she was a bit imbalanced and whether he should ask her to leave. However, she continued to sit silently in the pew so he decided to let her be alone in prayer.
After a few minutes, she got up, gathered up the envelopes from the floor, put them back in her purse and walked down the aisle to leave. Again, Fr. Kevin’s first instinct was to leave her alone and let her leave, but he really wanted to find out what she had thrown down on the floor.
So, he got up and followed her out. Tapping her on the shoulder, he introduced himself and asked, “I couldn’t help noticing you praying in the chapel. I realize that it’s none of my business, but can I ask you what you were throwing on the floor just now?”
She laughed and explained: “Hi Father. My name is Sharon and I live here in town. When my husband and I were married we decided that we would try to have as many children as we could afford and we have been blessed with five beautiful children. We both work part time so that we can watch them and homeschool them. Lately, however, my husband’s work has been slow and he has not been getting as many hours as we need to make ends meet. Those envelopes I threw on the floor are the bills that came in the mail today. I just don’t know how we can pay them on time. So I came here, threw them on the floor and asked God what He was going to do about it.”
As she spoke, she began to weep again. Wiping her eyes, she continued, “Being here with the Lord I just began to feel so much peace. I know God will take care of us. I know everything will be alright.”
Fr. Kevin could not help but cry as he heard her story. He said, “I agree. I believe God will take care of you and that you and your family will be alright.” What he didn’t say, however, was that he too was worried about some repairs his church needed and where the money to pay for them would come. Seeing Sharon’s faith and courage helped bring him some peace as well.
Fr Kevin and Sharon’s story illustrates a line from today’s Responsorial Psalm: “Trust in him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him.” Sharon poured out her heart to God, asking Him what He was going to do about her bills. And although we do not know if or when her bills did get paid, we do know that prayer gave her a deep sense of peace and confidence.
When we pour out our hearts to God, we also experience peace. Our Heavenly Father cares for us. There is nothing we are going through that is too small for Him to help us with. As Jesus tells us in today’s gospel, if God cares about the birds in the sky and the lilies of the field, He will also care for us. Whether we are worried about paying bills, passing an exam, finishing a project for work or getting our car to start, our Heavenly Father is by our side waiting for us to call on Him. There is nothing He is not willing or able to provide for us.
Pouring out our hearts to God means that we can complain to Him, as well. He is not offended if we tell Him we are angry with Him. If we think God has let us down, then we should tell Him so. Instead of holding onto resentment and anger against Him, we can pour it out before Him. He will not punish us for honestly expressing our feelings to Him. He knows what we think and how we feel anyway. When we do so, we will not only be unburdening ourselves, but we will also gain some fresh perspective on our situation. We may begin to realize why what we were expecting from God was not really what we needed and that He may have answered our prayers in other ways. Whatever the case may be, God at least promises us the gift of peace when we pour out our hearts before Him.
One of the greatest sources of anxiety and worry for most of us is that we confuse what we need with what we want. We all need food, but we do not need filet mignon. We all need transportation, but we do not need a Rolls Royce. We all need shelter, but we do not need a mansion. There are no doubt those who truly do not have the food, transportation or shelter they need. However, most of us tend to get in financial trouble not because of what we need but because of what we want. We spend more than we should on what we want because we think it will somehow meet our need for security, attention or entertainment. However, those added expenses only bring more stress into our lives because we know have to find a way to pay for them.
God has promised to provide for all our needs, not all our wants. If we can live simpler lives, focusing on what is truly necessary, then much of our stress and anxiety will disappear. Also, if we can shift our focus from what we need to what others need, we will be doubly blessed with peace and joy.
So as we gather around the altar where Jesus will offer us that which we truly need - communion with Him in His Body and Blood - let us pour our hearts out before Him with confidence. He promises us peace, if we do so - a peace that comes from the confidence that we can cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us.