In our second reading this Sunday, St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians writes; “Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Here Paul is addressing the community he founded in Philippi instructing them to put aside excessive worldly concerns and preoccupations and to turn to the Lord in prayer. Then that gift of God which is His peace will be theirs. St. Paul understood that peace springs from harmonious relations between God and His people and then among the people themselves. He goes on to recommend embracing virtues such as graciousness, honor, and purity to elevate their values and to attain the peace of God.
What strikes me most about this passage is the part which states “make your requests known to God”. Now, we frequently say that God already knows what we need before we even ask, but even so, God still wants to hear from us and hopefully we trust that God will give us what we need.
Our society seems to have gotten to a point where we have become very busy about many things which seem to cause us undue anxiety and stress. That is contrary to God’s will for us. God doesn’t want us to be anxious, but trustful and open to His plan for us. St. Francis had this passage in mind as he crafted what is known as Rule of St. Francis in 1223. In it he writes in the 6th paragraph:
“And wherever brothers meet one another, let them act like members of a common family. And let them securely make their needs known to one another, for if a mother loves and cares for her carnal son, how much more should one love and care for his spiritual son? And if one of them should become ill, let the other brothers serve him as they themselves would like to be served.”
Here, St. Francis is reminding his followers to trust the community they have joined, essentially saying ‘we are all in this together and we need to be attentive to one another.’ That can only take place when we humble ourselves and allow others the opportunity to care for us; Let your needs be known.
This isn’t always easy, but when we allow ourselves that grace, we also allow the peace of God into our lives. Many times, we find ourselves either too shy or even too proud to let others help us, we may find it as a weakness when in reality it is an act of courage. Francis wanted his followers to live fully in the peace of Christ and instinctively knew that that could only take place in authentic care for one another. Both St. Paul and St. Francis knew in their hearts the love God has for his people and reminds, as St. Paul also states. to “keep on doing what we have learned and received.”
Peace and All Good,