Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (February 17, 2019)

“Blessed are they who trust in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.”

What does it mean to “trust?” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines it thus: “Firm reliance on the integrity, ability or character of a person or thing.”

Imagine a world without trust. Imagine a world in which nobody believed in the “integrity, ability or character” of others. Such a place could indeed be described as a living hell. Trust is the mortar that binds us together. Trust is what enables us to form families, friends, community and country. Trust is an integral part of what it means to be human.

In stark contrast with the importance of trusting one another, Jeremiah warns: “Cursed are those who trust in human beings.” What are we to make of this?  Simply put, trusting one another is not enough to sustain us in life. Why?  Because, as we know all too well – and painfully – we humans, despite our best efforts, are not always trustworthy.  If our trust is limited to the human plane, we run the risk of being overwhelmed by the woes of pain, disappointment, heartache and cynicism.

Our ultimate trust must be found in God, the one is always trustworthy. Our ultimate trust must be found in God, the faithful friend who never deceives or betrays. Our fundamental trust allows us to not merely survive this life, but to thrive in it, especially when confronted by our own imperfections and those of others. St. Francis de Sales wrote: “If the whole world turns topsy-turvy, if all around is darkness and smoke and din, God is still with us.  If we believe that God lives in the darkness and on Mount Sinai which is full of smoke and surrounded with the roar of thunder and lightning, shall not all be well with us as long as we place our trust in God?” (Stopp, Selected Letters, p. 125)

Cursed are we if expect others to fulfill all of our deepest wants, our deepest needs, our deepest desires and our deepest dreams without fail. Such expectations lead to bitterness, resentment and despair. Blessed are we if we take confidence and consolation in the God who is always trustworthy, even when we humans are not. Our trust in God will not shield us from life’s inevitable disappointments – those we receive, those we cause – but it will enable us to name them, to work through them and to ultimately move beyond them.

Our trust in God enables us to celebrate the ways we are trustworthy. Likewise, our trust in God enables us to forgive one another when we are not.