The Good News doesn’t sound so good today. Even Jesus sounds a little stressed. We live in a world that is consumed by stress – which becomes distress. What is it that is driving our stress in the modern world? What is it that causes our relationships to fray? Why is it that so much of our life seems fragmented, and we find ourselves so driven by anxiety and fear? Why is it that when you ask someone how they are, many people will say, “Frantically busy,” or “Run off my feet” or “exhausted” or “I’m feeling really stressed at the moment.” What are we all so stressed about?
I suspect that for many, the stress of this world is caused by a sense of emptiness. We need to “keep on the go” so that we don’t think about our lives too deeply; so that we can ignore any sense of loneliness. So we keep on running – from this, to that, and back again. I think many people in our modern world are searching for meaning – real meaning in life. And we fear that if we stop, and think, we will ask too many questions of ourselves. And perhaps we fear even more some of the answers. On one level, it is comforting to hear Jesus speak of his distress. Even Jesus seemed frustrated that things weren’t moving as fast as he would have liked. So what do we do with all of our anxieties, stress and distress?
There is a positive note in the Liturgy of the Word. We are reminded by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, that we are not alone. We are surrounded by fellow travellers – those we can see and those we can’t see: “With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started”. This is the cause of our hope in the midst of all that weighs us down and cuts us to the quick. We have a multitude of supporters “on every side of us” who are accompanying us on this pilgrimage of faith.
It has been said that we live in a time of an “epidemic of loneliness”. Paradoxically, our modern life is so connected and disconnected all at the same time. Our smart phones have reshaped our ways of relating; we can be closer to someone over the other side of the world than the person beside us. The Church’s liturgy draws us face-to-face with one another and lifts us up beyond all that causes us distress and drives our anxieties. Here, we are surrounded by a multitude of fellow travellers who share our hopes, joys, griefs and anxieties. We are not alone, and this company gathered by God’s Spirit reminds us not to be distressed but trusting in God’s providential care.