Friday, June 30, 2017

“Trust” by Colleen O’Sullivan

God further said to Abraham: “As for your wife Sarai, do not call her Sarai; her name shall be Sarah.  I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her.  Him also will I bless; he shall give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples shall issue from him.”  Abraham prostrated himself and laughed as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?  Or can Sarah give birth at ninety?” 
(Genesis 17:15-17)

Blessed are you who fear the Lord,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.  (Psalm 128:1-2)

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.  And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”  He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it.  Be made clean.”  His leprosy was cleansed immediately. 
(Matthew 8:1-3)

Lord, may I ever trust in your goodness and mercy.

When I was in college, a popular book for discussion groups was Your God is Too Small by J.B. Phillips.  When I saw Abraham’s reaction to God’s promise of a son, I thought of that title and wanted to say, “Abraham, your ideas about God are way too small and limiting.  You and Sarah can laugh all you want at God’s promise, but the joke might turn out to be on you!  God might be bigger and more powerful than anything you can imagine.”

In the Gospel reading, the leper seems to expect that Jesus can and will heal him and restore him to the community.  He shows no reservations.  Jesus, he trusts, can do what no one else will or can do – make him clean and respectable again.  That leper, whose name we’re not told, does not hesitate but runs to Jesus and asks to be made whole.  It would be wonderful to have his faith, but more often than not, I think we’re more like Abraham, wishing for something but laughing at the idea that God might make it happen.

Abraham and Sarah had desired a son for years.  Old age crept up on them and they had given up on that ever happening.  So, when God promises to fulfill that deep longing, we might have expected a different reaction.

It all boils down to trust.  How much do we trust in God?  Pope Francis in his remarks to a general audience on January 25th of this year, said:  “Trusting in God means to enter into his designs without demanding anything, even accepting that his salvation and his help should come to us in a different way from our expectations.”

It seems somewhat paradoxical, but we learn to trust God going forward by looking back.  How many times in your life has God led you out of a seemingly impossible situation in a direction you would never have thought of?  How many times has God taken the ashes of some situation you’ve found yourself in and coaxed new life from them?  How often has God taken the worst things in your life and turned them into blessings?

Give yourself a mini-retreat sometime this week.  Look back and reflect on all the times God has led you in paths you never dreamed of, to people and experiences you never imagined.  Give thanks and pray for the trust that God will continue to so bless you all the days of your life.

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