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It is understandable that with the world we live in today we feel afraid. There seems to be an ever-increasing amount of anxiety in our lives. Studies bear this out. Our mental health is not so good. And there are many reasons for this.

For one, we are in a pandemic, which has only heightened our divisions. Mask wearing, which was initially in the world a way of both protecting oneself and being considerate of others has become a political statement. For some, the pandemic has only heightened their sense of aloneness. It has magnified the things they worry about, while at the same time reducing connection to the people who can support them.

Second, Gun violence and violence of other kinds seems to be rising, but at the very least we are more aware of it. And the greater knowledge we have of violence in other places (and where we live) can make it feel like the world has become completely and totally unsafe.

Sadly, some people are “coping” with this by using more drugs. The opioid crisis in this country has ruined lives and has cost some as well.  Some of this is because some people are feeling left behind. Others see their jobs lost. Still others see little hope for the place they live. And I am aware of more than one study that suggests a lack of connection to others is a major source of addiction. Moreover, some drugs have no “trial period” in the sense that they can be addictive after only one use.

Social media which was supposed to help us to become more connected often serves the purpose of isolating us. The problem of bullying, for example is not new. But now, through social media one is not only bullied in a single setting, like school, but everywhere, every day, every hour. What started as a way to keep in touch with people we know has denigrated for some into a forum to shout at and shut out people with whom they disagree.

And, there are personal areas that can be anxiety producing. There is brokenness everywhere, even in our Church, sometimes even caused by the Church.

But today’s first reading helps us to see the solution.  While it is not a magic solution, and we do not always see its benefits right away, we are reminded of the power of the Holy Spirit. For people of faith, even though they are not immune from these problems I mentioned, they are in a position where they have been shown to better deal with them.

One strong indication of the Holy Spirit is the building of community. Yesterday it was the oneness of the community that was highlighted in the first reading. Today it is the refuge the Lord provides for us. And so today, think of the refuge of the Lord, the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Seek it and find it in your life. Ask God to come into your heart to give you the peace that surpasses understanding. Spend 5 with Jesus today, in silent prayer, so you can discover the peace the world cannot give.

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