BY FR. BRENDAN BUSSE, S.J. | March 3, 2021
Today’s Readings

Sickness and death. Both concern us. But neither should surprise nor worry us. We all get sick and die. Lent is a good time to remember this; it’s the opening line after all: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. 

This year has felt like a very long Lent. Many in our community here at Dolores Mission are sick and dying. Am I concerned? Of course. Am I surprised? Not really. Do I worry? I try not to. 

Our neighborhood—predominantly Latin American, low-income, essential workers—has been hit particularly hard by recent waves of COVID-19 infection. The usual mix of social and economic inequality and decades of systemically racist housing and health policies means that our neighborhood reliably suffers more of what everyone else suffers a little, if at all. Sadly, this doesn’t surprise us anymore. But, gratefully, it concerns us still. 

Worry less. Care more.

One of my Jesuit community members was at a mortuary recently to preside over a vigil. After the service he asked one of the staff, “So, how’s it been lately?” They replied, “We just can’t keep up. We have over 300 bodies waiting for services.” The priest, shocked, looked up at the simple facade of the small, family-run mortuary and asked, “Where do you keep them?” The funeral director grimly gestured to a large freezer truck parked halfway down the block. “In there,” he said. “We had to rent.” 

In the Gospel today Jesus tells his disciples something they probably already knew: “We’re going up to Jerusalem.” I imagine they rolled their eyes, “Yeah, Jesus. We noticed.” But he also tells them something they shouldn’t be surprised to hear, but probably didn’t want to think much about: “And there will be a crucifixion.” These days we don’t need to go up to Jerusalem to witness crucifixion. But in it all, I try not to worry. I prefer concern. Concern draws me closer to those who suffer, to the truth of their experience. Concern helps me to ask the right questions: What’s causing this? What must it be like for them? What comfort can I bring? Worry is rooted in an aversion to suffering. The fruit of worry is anxiety, avoidance, or burnout. The fruit of concern is care. These are concerning times. But worry is a waste. Better to live in concern and with care. As Jesus often said: We’re not here to lose our life. We’re here to give it. 

For Reflection:

  • What does it mean for you to live from a place of loving concern? 
  • How might this be different from endless worry? 
  • What grace would help you live today in the Spirit of compassionate concern for those who suffer?

8 replies
  1. Avatar
    Kevin says:

    Did st. Joseph worry? I am sure he did… the difference being he “knew” he had God on his side … I think
    As a parent and dad it is hard to push worries aside especially if one is the sole provider. The beauty of this worry is that in itself is a selfless act of and a sacrifice of being the provider … or is it?
    We too do have God on our side but as life goes on the challenge then becomes more about constant reassurance of his presence… through out the day

    Just a thought

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Molly Weyrens says:

    Thanks for this distinction between concern and worry. I am going to ponder that and put it into practice a bit. I do not thing I saw Jesus worried very often… concerned, yes. Obviously trusting God is a huge part of this equation. I believe if we trust God more we will act out of that sense of concern.

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  3. Avatar
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    Concern for the suffering of others comes into focus when we suffer ourselves. In union with the person who related suffering to me as a gift of God in His sharing of Himself and His life. I am willing to be at one with Christ in His suffering and offere others who suffer my pain. Physical suffering is difficult but the suffering of loneliness during this pandemic has been very hard on many believers. May God relieve their loneliness and replace it with His presence in our lives and the goodness of many who reach out to offer consolation during this time.

    Reply
  4. Avatar
    Hannah H says:

    I thought “sounds like something Father Brendan would say” as soon I saw the title for today in my inbox! “The fruit of worry is anxiety, avoidance, or burnout”. Yes. As you have said before, worry is spinning our wheels, but we can put our concern into action instead of feeling hopeless.

    Reply
  5. Avatar
    Jen V says:

    This reflection, especially the distinction between worry and concern, really struck me during this time when I am worrying about so much. How to shift from worry to concern will be my focus. Thank you for this wisdom.

    Reply
  6. Avatar
    Carmel Jessie Donnelly says:

    From living with concern brings about a sort of love that helps us dig deeper to some how try to have a small sense of understanding of what might be happening to others. It draws a compassionate response rather then a helpless response.

    Reply
  7. Avatar
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Thanks Brendan. Worrying is negative. Caring is positive, life-enhancing and life-promoting. Surely it is far better to worry less and care more.

    Reply

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