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The antidote to anxiety is a firm faith.

A Reflection for the Tuesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

“Unless your faith is firm

you shall not be firm!”

Today’s first reading presents a dramatic scene. Jerusalem is under attack. The king trembles as he sees his enemies arrayed before him. But God is with him and ensures the safety of his city. The story is echoed in the Psalm: the king’s enemies are “stunned, terrified, routed.” The refrain reminds us of God’s goodness: “God Upholds his city forever.”

A compelling story, for sure. But what does it have to do with my life? I am not a king, and I do not have kings attacking me. I own 1,600 square feet of residential real estate, hardly a castle and certainly not a city. I am not besieged by enemy forces.

But sometimes Scripture helps dramatize the struggles of our own hearts. I do not face the onslaught of kings, but I do face self-doubt, anxiety, desolation. My faith is not always firm. But God tells us that “Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!” In the Scripture and again in the Gospel, the stakes are high. “Within sixty years and five, Ephraim shall be crushed, no longer a nation. Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!” In the Gospel of Matthew, “Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.”

I need my faith, and I need to nourish it every day, because I need it to anchor me when I face the forces of anxiety and self-doubt.

Are the stakes as high for us? What does it matter if my own faith is not firm? Surely no cities will be destroyed as a result.

“Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm.”

I need my faith, and I need to nourish it every day, because I need it to anchor me when I face the forces of anxiety and self-doubt. The onslaught will come.

So this quote is a reminder to feed our faith. But it is also something of a warning. It begins, after all, with the word “unless.” Jesus, too, grows angry with the towns he has visited because they did not repent. They did not have faith.

So make firm your faith, so it will anchor you. But also because God has done great things for you, and you owe him your gratitude.

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