On Friday I finished my summer long internship at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hospital. It was a beautiful experience. There were many people I met there that I will never forget because through them I saw the face of Christ. One such person was a woman in her 90s. She was a small woman who greeted every caregiver with a smile. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but she was one of mine. The last visit I had with her was the most memorable. On this day she had declined tremendously, I knelt next to her bed and I grabbed her hand. I asked her “how can I pray for you today?” She said, “Stephen I’m ready to go home. I’m at peace, and I want to see Jesus. But my kids are not ready to let me go. I would like to pray for them that they will be at peace when I go to the Lord.”
But there is a striking difference between the man in the Gospel and the woman I met in the hospital. The man in the parable is anxious. He is searching for security. He wants to feel safe and he wants to be at peace. The way he believes that he will find happiness is by storing his wealth. But he is so anxious that decides he needs to tear down his barns and build bigger ones hoping that he will at last find security and peace. The man’s desire for more wealth is an indicator that he relies more on earthly things rather than heavenly things.
Saint Paul calls us to seek what is above. To hold on to the heavenly things; namely our relationship with God which is what the woman from the hospital teaches us. I believe that Christ is asking us to pray about the anxiety we all experience in daily life. It is in experiencing all the anxieties of life that we reach out for ways to bring peace to our souls; just as the man from our Gospel sought to bring peace to his heart through his wealth. A good challenge for us this week is to be conscious, to be mindful of those moments when our soul is not at peace; and to pray and reflect on these moments. What do we run to? Do we run to our phone because the experience of silence and solitude is too foreign? Do we run to sports or other good activities to bring peace? Or do we go to entertainment, shows, movies or games to distract us from worldly anxieties; such as, for all the young people present, Pokemon Go? I know which one Fr. Mark chooses… Gotta Catch ’em all right padre? All of these things are not bad in themselves, but they are indicators of where each of us is holding on to earthly things.
Christ wants us to go to him first. Christ invites us to prayer so that we can build our friendship with him. The place to find real peace is in prayer and the Eucharist. In prayer we encounter the prince of peace. We encounter Christ. The challenge for all of us this weekend is to be more like the woman I met at the hospital and not like the man in the Gospel. We will find ourselves like the woman if we train ourselves to run to God in the times of anxiety and insecurity; and he will bring us the peace and security we desire. So let us stay close to God in prayer and in the Eucharist so that Jesus, who is the prince of peace, can give us the peace of heart we desire.