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Learning from Our Lord Through Anxiety

January 8, AD2018 4 Comments

I am learning to keep my anxiety and irritation about others to myself. That does not mean that I have stopped my negative thoughts about others. But, hopefully, that is in the near-future.

I usually get anxious or irritated primarily when I experience feelings of inferiority. Someone pulls in front of me in traffic and I think I have been out-maneuvered. I want revenge!

Or, someone tells me that I could use improvement in some area of my life, and I feel wounded! I want to fix myself right away before the other person finds out how flawed I really am.

Of course, all of us are flawed, but I find it hard to accept that. Perhaps it was my upbringing, or else just my sinful condition.

I want to be healed of this affliction. I have to be healed of this situation if I want to be more in union with Jesus and the rest of the Trinity.

The Baptism of the Lord

I now believe that only by immersing myself in the mercy of Jesus will I be healed. To be able to do that, I believe, I need to imitate Jesus’ humility in being baptized by John the Baptist.

Jesus allowed John to baptize Him. And John earlier had admitted that he himself was not worthy. Jesus was more than worthy.

I am not worthy of the graces that I have been given by Jesus nor of being healed. But Jesus does gradually heal me. He heals all of us because He loves us. Maybe we are not healed as much as we like, but we get healed as much as we need.

I experience a great longing at this in-between state of anxiety and healing. It’s like the in-between state of living and dying. At 66 years of age, I’m more aware now of my eventual death than I have ever before experienced.

The celebration of the Baptism of the Lord today is a great feast. It is usually held on a Sunday, except when the feast of the Epiphany falls on a Sunday (like this year). Then, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is transferred to the Monday after Epiphany. Because the feast of the Epiphany is a holy day of obligation, and the Baptism of Jesus is not, the United States Bishops’ Conference moved Epiphany to a Sunday. That is because, according to Canon Law 1246, each national bishops’ conference can establish which holy days it will require the faithful to attend. Out of 10 possible holy days that could be observed according to Canon 1246, we now have only two holy days in the United States (that sometimes are observed during a weekday) in which we are required to attend Mass.

The Baptism of the Lord is where Jesus takes on our sins and the penalty of death and transforms them through His Crucifixion and Resurrection into new and eternal life. Suddenly through His Baptism, we have new hope and something to be deeply joyful about. It’s a new beginning!

Lord, I am not worthy to be your disciple because I live too much in the past. I cannot forgive myself for things that occurred years ago. Yet You have stepped into my place and assumed my unworthiness into Your humanity and divinity, into the miracle of your hypostatic union, so that I do not have to feel inferior or anxious or irritated ever again.

Full Healing from Anxiety

To be fully healed, I have to keep remembering and believing that Jesus forgives me and accepts me for all my faults and sinfulness, and wants me to live in His joy by letting His grace transform me.

When Jesus was immersed in the Jordan River and received John’s baptism, according to some, all the rivers and waters of the world were made holy.

If that is the case, then we have all the means of transformation at our disposal, as long as we participate fully in the mystery of Jesus life, death and Resurrection, or in the Paschal Mystery.

For me to find some additional healing for my inferiority, and anxiety and irritation at others, I have to accept the reality of who Jesus is. In His human nature, He did not let His love for every person get twisted by criticism or anxiety. He worried about the important stuff, like bringing all sinners and those beset with anxiety to live in eternity with the Trinity.

That has to be my mindset too. I can no longer let my anxiety cripple me.

Easier said than done, right?

Absolutely. But I must stop the temptation to think ill of others.

All it does is cause me more anxiety, and I have to give it up. This may very well be the motivation I need to change.

It’s a good New Year’s and Lenten resolution, starting today, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when I learn more deeply to die to sin, and to be raised, through Jesus.

You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead (Col 2:12).

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Deacon Jim Dougherty is a married permanent deacon for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) serving in the Diocese of Honolulu. Dougherty has a doctorate in Interdisciplinary Studies. For 27 years, he served as executive director of the DeLaSalle Education Center in Kansas City, Missouri, a national model of excellence in education for central-city high school students. Dougherty has recently published a spiritual memoir about his son’s death entitled: A Place for Us to Meet. The book is available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1549858076/ He and Karol have been married 43 years and have four children and six grandchildren.

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