By Father Patrick Longalong
I am stating the obvious when I say we are living in stressful times, especially living here in New York City during the pandemic.
Our daily life’s demands can cause a tremendous amount of stress, particularly from work, social relationships and financial responsibilities. Fulfilling the demands of our day-to-day activities seem to require more energy and focus each day, leaving us mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted.
Reflecting on Scripture readings at Mass this weekend might bring up an important question in our heart. “Am I at peace? Am I ok?”
A few months ago, I had lunch with a good friend, Carol. She told me her plan to give up all her social media activities for the entirety of Lent.
She felt it would be good to take a break from all the disturbing images posted as well as the noise of conflicting opinions being pushed into her newsfeed. All of these were causing her anxiety and worry.
Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel give us something to hold on to when we feel overwhelmed or helpless:
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you. […] Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
It is impossible for us not to feel fear. After all, it is part of our human design. What Jesus is asking us is to have confidence that we are not alone.
Jesus will always be present in our life, especially when we are experiencing burdens really hard to carry. God will give us the necessary grace to get through that challenging situation and find the right solution to our problems.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”
Our Church from the early foundation of our community has been proactive in keeping peace in our community.
Our human history reflects our nature’s tendency to create confusion and division. We heard an example of this in today’s first reading.
The apostles and the elders of the Church sent representatives to address a situation in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia.
A situation that got people to be upset and “disturbed their peace of mind.”
At this point in our Easter season, we are being transitioned to take on the responsibility of caring for the Church.
One of the great responsibilities we have as disciples of Christ is to continue to create unity and stability through the Christ’s gift of peace. Peace, however, begins in the hearts of every man and woman before we can enjoy peace in the greater community.
Sometimes it is hard to find peace in our hearts on our own. We should not be afraid nor ashamed to ask for help if we find ourselves becoming overwhelmed.
Sometimes a priest can help you if the issue is spiritual, and in other situations, you might need to get a doctor to help you.
May has been designated Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a great opportunity for our community to start conversations and increase understanding about mental health and eliminate the stigma about mental illness.
Everyone has mental health, and it deserves your attention just as much as your physical and spiritual health does.
May the Peace of the Lord be in your mind and in your heart!
Readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts of the Apostles 16:1-10
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, and coordinator of the Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.