Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 17:10-16
Heb 9:24-28
Mk 12:38-44

Trust, it’s something we don’t seem to do very well. We don’t trust the government to necessarily do the right thing. We don’t trust big business, certain that they are simply out to fleece us for as much as they can get. We look at our neighbor suspiciously, wondering just what they are up to. We don’t trust our employers, afraid we are simply being used, that we are no more than a cog in a machine. I don’t dispute that much of this mistrust has a foundation in truth. People, all people, ourselves included, do too much to cause others to distrust us. Then we are suddenly asked to turn and trust God, to trust God completely, without question or reservation. A pretty big switch from the suspicion we hold everything else in. Elijah travels to Zaraphath. There he encounters a widow and asks her for some water and a bit of bread. There was a drought, and the subsequent famine resulting from the drought. The widow tells him I have only a small amount of oil and flour. My son and I will eat this then die. Yet Elijah urges her to trust that God will care for her, and so God did. She fed Elijah, herself and her son and the oil and flour never ran out, because she trusted. Jesus comments on those putting offerings into the Temple treasury, stating that the one who put in the least actually put in the most. The widow was poor, yet gave what she had, even though she would have little or nothing after her contribution. She was able to trust, trust that God would care for her. Were those widows just the product of a simpler time and a simpler people? Perhaps, but they were not fools, they knew what they were doing, they understood that they were placing themselves in God’s hands, depending on God to care for them. So how do we, complicated, modern, cynical people come to trust in God, trust that God will care for us? How do we break this cycle of distrust we live in? I wish I had an easy answer, I don’t. It’s a struggle, a daily struggle for all of us. We are taught to be self-reliant, depend on no one, take care of yourself, no one else will. Yet at some point in all of our lives we will find ourselves in a position we can’t take care of, a problem we can’t fix, we will need someone, we will need help. I may not be able to bring myself to trust that any authority will help me, be it governmental or corporate. I may not even trust those I should, friends and family. I should turn to God, but do I even trust that God will help me? The problem is that we do not turn to God or anyone until we need help, until our situation seems as desperate as the widow of Zaraphath. Trust can’t simply be the product of desperation, that isn’t trust. We must develop a sense of trust long before we become desperate, we must believe that God, if no one else, is for us, will care for us. We must have faith. Faith must be the basis of our decision making, the basis of our lives. It is only in having faith that we can trust. If we accept faith, have faith in God, before times are desperate, we can trust God knowing that as St. Julian of Norwich said, “But all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”
Deacon John
Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Nov. 8, 2009