Cast All Your Worries On Him| Season of Joy

Season of Joy

Today's Season of Joy reflection on 1 Peter 5:5b-14 is by Fr. Jim Strzok, SJ.

Fr. Jim is an 82-year-old Jesuit, born in north central Wisconsin when the world was, in the words of poet E. E. Cummings, “Muddy luscious and puddle wonderful.” By training he is a chemist and physicist with higher degrees in earth sciences and ascetical theology. Most of his life he has been a teacher and missionary - 18 years among the Sioux Indians in South Dakota and then for 30 years, a missionary to E. Africa.  He has worked among many indigenous people, which helped him understand and make the ecological conversion that Pope Francis calls us to.

Cast All Your Worries On Him

1 Peter 5:5b-14 (excerpt)

Beloved:
Clothe yourselves with humility
in your dealings with one another, for:
God opposes the proud
but bestows favor on the humble.

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God,
that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you...

To read the full scripture passage, please visit: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/042522.cfm

My father was a cattleman in northern Wisconsin. I often traveled with him trucking cattle. When riding I began to notice that when driving directly north or south, directly east or west of St. Peter’s Catholic church in my home town he tipped his hat exactly when we crossed these compass points. I learned directions from my father, and I also learned God was back there at the center of our village. And, that God was important. My father prayed in the morning before work, he read the bible. We said the family rosary. If a farmer would come to visit him during rosary, he was invited in to join us. We knew who God is, the center of our life. Dad showed us it is important to place our worries on Him. He cares for us. He loves us.

A key word in today’s first reading is “Beloved”. “Beloved” is an intimate term used among people who are in love, who give love and receive love. Who are your “Beloved”? I have deep, powerful memories of men and women who called or named me “beloved”.

Who is speaking these words? Peter, the fisherman, called by Christ to be a fisher of men and women, was renamed, by Christ, “the rock” on whom he would build his church. Whom we heard saying to Christ at their last supper “I will die for you!” But who, a few hours later, faced by a servant girl and the crowd proclaims: “I don’t even know the man!” A coward – crumbling sandstone, not granite. As the cock crowed, Christ looked at him. We are told Peter wept, recognizing his sad state, but later turned back to Christ, (unlike Judas who despaired and killed himself thinking there is no forgiveness). So, who is this failed rock, now calling us “Beloved” in today’s reading? It is Peter, but changed. Humbled. Humbled by his experience of weakness, but now graced. Who writes: “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God”.

What can I learn here? A beginning grace is “to KNOW I am a sinner, but loved. It is to know that God’s name for me is “Beloved” even though I sin. Anthony Patovano once wrote “To be forgiven is to be loved without any reason”. Peter learned this. We need learn this. We Jesuits (sons of Ignatius) describe ourselves as “men who know they are sinners and yet called to be companions (eat bread with) Jesus under the cross.” This is the first great grace of the Spiritual Exercises we make as novices.

Peter continues in today’s reading: “Cast all your worries upon the lord” (ibeing too worried is because you are listening to the devil and not trusting God). Why? “Because, (as peter says and my father showed us), God cares for you!”

Comedian Stephen Colbert, once quipped “Do not worry” is not a suggestion; it is a command!”

What is the difference between a suggestion and a command? This story of our sophomore history teacher, Fr. Bunzo, may help understand the difference. Fr. Bunzo was a bulky, middle-aged Jesuit who taught us sophomore history at Campion H S after lunch. I am a teacher. After lunch is never a good time to teach. World history was not our favorite subject. So, Fr. Bunzo’s attempt to settle us down sometimes took ten minutes -- until the day he told us to “Sit down!” We didn’t listen. With one arm he lifted Joe Godfrey, who was out of his desk, by his shirt, carried him with one arm to his own desk and dropped Joe in his seat. Plop! After this, Father’s suggestion became a command. We listened. We got the point.

And, what is Peter’s command? “Cast all your worries on Him, because, He cares for you!” Because he loves you.

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