Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In What or Whom Do You Trust?

January 18, 2012

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

By Colleen O'Sullivan

David continued (speaking to Saul): “The Lord, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.” (In speaking to Goliath) David answered him: “You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.” (I Samuel 17:37a, 45)

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mark 3:1-6)


I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:2)


Many years ago, when I was in my twenties and fresh out of school, I remember my father sharing his “philosophy of life” with me. His bottom line was that a little money can solve just about anything. He was a child of the Depression era. His family was very poor when he was growing up. I imagine there were times when he literally went to bed hungry because there was no money for food. Where I have a closet full of clothes; he had two pairs of pants and two shirts. His life experiences led him to put his trust in money and savings.

In our first reading today, we read about the famous battle between David and Goliath. We see Goliath full of confidence in the fact that he is a hefty, burly man, possessed of great strength. He is renowned for his battlefield prowess. As he goes into battle, his experiences as a warrior lead him to put his trust in his weapons: a sword, a spear and a scimitar (a curved sword).

Throughout the ages, we human beings have invested our trust in a variety of ways: Eve in the words of the serpent, Adam in Eve’s proffered gift of forbidden fruit, the Israelites in a golden calf, rulers in their power over other people, teenagers in the approval of their friends.

In today’s Gospel reading, we see the Pharisees blindly putting their trust in the letter rather than the spirit of the law.

St. Augustine describes this human yearning in his autobiographical Confessions. He says our hearts are restless until they rest in God. We’re all looking for something or someone in which to put our trust, something or someone to be our rock or our mainstay. The trouble is that many of us look in the wrong places. Money can ensure that we have food, clothing and shelter, but even great wealth can’t buy us friendship, love or eternal life. Physical prowess isn’t lasting; we all eventually grow older and weaker. Trusting in the wily words of the Evil One or the gleam of false idols gets us nothing but trouble. Blindly following religious laws without understanding the loving spirit behind them can make us mean-spirited.

In our readings today, we see David and Jesus putting their trust in the right place. Saul tries to discourage David from going into battle against Goliath. He tells the youth that he is too young and inexperienced. But David says that he is a shepherd and has always trusted God to keep him safe from predators while tending his flock, and the Lord has never failed him. God has always protected him. He trusts God.

Jesus puts his faith in his relationship with his Father and in doing the good for others that he knows is his Father’s will. He’s both angry and sad that the Pharisees are so faithful to the last little detail of the Jewish law yet totally blind to the loving intent behind it. The law was meant to bring people closer to God. Jesus trusts his loving Father.


When have you experienced that restlessness or yearning that St. Augustine speaks of? What false idols have you turned to in your life? Whatever they are, the Lord asks you to lay them down and renew your trust in God.

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