At Siena College this week, my students were intrigued by the Paschal Mystery and the idea of Jesus suffering; that, if Jesus is God, why is he afraid? In the end, I explained two issues: first, his sorrow stems from the fact that he is abandoned, he is alone, he is isolated even from God; and second, that this isolation really cannot be, can it? God IS a relationship of love, that cannot exclude, cannot isolate, cannot abandon. And so, the sorrow and fear of Jesus, really cannot be, cannot ever exist when it comes to you and me: we can never, ever be abandoned, alone, or isolated from God and his love.
Clearly, the prophet Isaiah reminds us, God cannot forsake us, forget us, withhold his care from us. Apparently, even in the darkest of circumstances—when we’re in the most dire need—God can never forsake us. Does this mean that life will be easier for us, that somehow we’ll be spared trials and suffering? No, for as long as we live in this world, the things of this world can always threaten and harm us.
Recall our gospel, where two images are set against each other: God and mammon. Many translations have equated mammon with money, but actually it is more than money: it’s all the stuff that can be acquired with money. When I was younger (and much more idealistic and somewhat scrupulous) I used to think I was fine in this regard since I didn’t have much money. But that’s not the case; it’s not just money, but anything that can be gotten or gained in this world. So Our Lord is setting up a choice for us between God and everything else. But if we look at how “everything else” can be begged, borrowed, lost or stolen, there really isn’t any other choice. We can really only place our trust and hope in God and His care.
This past Monday—for example—we had a Finance Committee meeting. While our parish can no longer avoid the financial crisis of the last 6 years, we must now struggle to meet our own financial concerns head-on. While I normally approach such problems with analytics and high levels of anxiety, this time, in the end, I have to admit that “I can only do what I can do” and that because all of this is for God and his great glory, God will have to see us through. It’s not naive, it’s just true. Remember, the stuff of this world can fail us, but God cannot: it’s not within his nature to forget us, to fail us, to be without care for us.
So what does this mean? Considering the birds and the flowers of our gospel, we witness how much greater we are and that it would be absurd for God not to care for us. If he can shower such beauty and generosity on simpler things, then even the most intricate of creation—human beings—will warrant even greater care and concern.
And so we simply TRUST him. We give ourselves over to him. We place ourselves—and nothing else—into God’s embrace, where he cares for us and provides for us. For remember: in the end, all these things that money can buy are fleeting, will pass away, or we’ll have to leave them behind on our death…the only thing that is truly lasting is the love we have with the Lord God.
From this day onward, might we be resolute: place ourselves into the trust-worthy embrace of the Lord of all creation? He who made us and sustains us, is the only One who never changes, is always stable, and is always loving & caring when he deals with us. Only then can we begin to convince ourselves that we truly trust God over mammon.
God love you, always.