Today’s readings vividly discuss two central themes of our own mortal lives: fear and trust.
Both feelings are also very much aligned with both light and darkness. Let’s review that.
As a child, we learn one of the most important characteristics of our life – that of trusting another. At no other point in our life, in fact, is trust so dominant and so pure. We know that the woman we call Mom will never betray us and will always be there for us. And, for most people, that is the case. As the one who gave us life, our mothers also pass on to us the attribute of trust – a theme and a feeling without which people can not love and which is the cornerstone of government.
Trust guides us to believe in institutions, trust guides us to love someone; trust guides us to believe that, if we follow basic common sense rules, we can live in harmony with our fellow man.
And its trust that is part of the anchor of our faith – we trust our God, we trust scripture, we trust our personal savior Jesus Christ and that trust also gives us freedom to believe – to believe in his message of salvation, forgiveness and Christian harmony.
But, as we have learned through human history and sometimes our own personal history, trust can be betrayed. As we grow from our childhood years, we begin to see the bonds of trust weakened. Sometimes it’s because the marriage of our parents might have failed, sometimes it’s because an adult lets us down, or a friend betrays us, or an institution fails us.
And sometimes its when our own government lets us down – it can be from an immoral way, it can be when a governmental agency, like the FDA fails us or when a government fails to protect us as in the failure of oversight of our financial institutions – we saw it in the 1920’s and we are living through it right now.
When trust fails us, the light which surrounds that basic feeling, weakens and goes out, Suddenly things we cherished, things which we loved, things which we thought were there to protect us are gone. And we turn inward for protection and for survival. We are less open with others, we worry more about what others might do, we revert to a posture of protection of self and of those we love.
That’s a natural attitude and behavior -== but the erosion of trust also erodes our own value system. When trust is betrayed time and again, our own values are affected.
Do I mean that we should trust regardless of the times we feel betrayed? Not at all. As I said, a moment ago, it’s a natural reaction, But what we can NOT do is to so allow our value system to be affected that we forget that trust is a healthy part of our lives and there will always be some in whom our trust is never betrayed. When I say that, I think of those that have been married for 50+ years. Those couples know that their trust is rewarded. They know that without trust, their marriages would not have been successful and would not have survived.
We also know and believe that trust in our God will never be betrayed. Religious institutions may betray us, individual members of those institutions may betray us but our God will NOT betray us. Our God — the deity we have come to know is a constant in our lives. He is there to always comfort, always forgive and to always welcome us home.
If we lose that trust in God, our basic character is negatively affected. Our ability to take each day and make it worthwhile is negatively affected. Our ability to bond with another – even in a simple way – is affected. And slowly within our lives grows a darker force and that is fear.
If we give up trust, then we fear more because that is the natural outgrowth of not trusting. The darkness of fear enters our life and soon controls it. Fear is one of the most damning feelings we can have. Fear takes away our ability to review events and people in a crystal clear way. When not combated, fear becomes controlling. When fear controls us, we are no longer the same person we were before.
Suddenly words that are spoken, actions that are taken, positions that are represented are not only questioned and fear begins to dim the light of our lives. The ability to think clearly, the ability to react naturally, the ability to have peace, is robbed by the demon of fear.
Fear and trust are two faces of the same coin. Trust is a gift from God and fear is an entrapment from the dark side.
No matter where we are in life, no matter what we might have suffered, we need to know that our remaining years need to be lived in light, not darkness. We may still have protective barriers around us that prevent us from trusting fully but we need to concentrate on the source of feelings. Trust is given to us so that we might know the full kingdom and the full radiance of His kingdom. Fear is sent out to us to alter that belief, to hold us back from embracing the word of God fully.
Wherever we feel fear, we need to surround it with our trust of God. Our God will protect us and, in one way or another, our God will provide for us. It may not be on the terms we dictate or want but it will always be there.
So turn instead to trust and belief. In the words of Jesus in today’s gospel: “Fear is useless. What is needed is trust.”