“Cursed are those who trusts in human beings, who make flesh their strength, whose hearts turns away from the LORD … Blessed are those who trust in the LORD. They ares like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out it roots to the stream: In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit.” - Jer 17: 5, 7-8
In a homily on today’s readings, Pope Francis gets at the heart of our faith: Do we trust in ourselves, or do we trust in God? Trusting in ourselves does not give life, like a “barren bush in the wasteland desert” (Jer. 17:6). Trusting in God gives life, like a fruit-bearing plant, even in sustained heat and drought conditions. Biblically, faith means trust, confidence in.
The longer I live, the more I stumble on the subtle and obvious ways in which I rely on human capacity more than God’s goodness and mercy. The more I accompany people in life, the more I realize that the central question of faith is not whether God exists, or whether God cares. These are important questions, but they primarily engage intellectual thinking. They do not necessarily translate to life-giving actions or transformative habits. Rather, I am discovering that the key question of faith is, “Do I trust that God loves me, personally, intimately, unconditionally, without limit?” Wresting with this question yields greater capacity for change. When we allow this question to confront our values and our ways of relating, we can better discover who we are meant to be and how we are meant to live. We become more loving, just, merciful.
I am in awe after the past weekend in Houston. Listening to 38 people share their experiences on a silent retreat touches me deeply. Everyone talked about his or her personal struggles to trust God. Many testified how healing and freeing it was to allow God to simply “be with” them in their fragility, foolishness, loneliness, vulnerabilities, pain, or difficult life circumstances. One man shared how he was invited to deeply listen to a song he wrote five years ago for a couple’s wedding. The song centers on how the couple was “made for each other,” that they were “good together.” Yet, he was shocked to hear the song as if the “Creator of all things” were singing it to him, nudging him to embrace tender trust: “What good am I without you?” The man broke down in tears as he realized that God is writing this love song in his own heart and life. God has been patiently waiting for these past five years to give him the confidence that they are “good together,” despite his fears and protestations. His song and sharing haunt me, beckoning me to consider where I place my trust.
LORD, grant me humility to become more aware of where I place my trust. Give me the gift of greater confidence in your goodness and mercy.