Both the reading from Genesis and the Gospel from Matthew provide perspectives on trust.
Today’s readings hit home. I think of the aging Abraham and Sarah. I was born to parents who were 44 and 45 years old. I am here because on her first communion day my parents asked my youngest sister what she would like for this special day. She told them that she wanted a baby brother. My parents had always wanted a son. Nine months later I was born.
Today’s readings also hit home on a deeper level. They are calls for trust. This is not my strong point. My trust problems are not limited to trust in the Lord. I have a sufficient number of trust problems with my fellow man. There were times and places when I was more trusting. A word was enough. I functioned with very few worries. Still I wasn’t getting it. Although I would like it if I could count on all of my prayers being answered, I don’t think it is (or it should be) that easy. Hakuna Matata, the song of the worry-free philosophy from the Lion King, does not describe the lifestyle I believe that our faith asks. Trust and belief do not need to be at odds with responsibility, but finding the right mix is not a trivial task. Part of this challenge is a function of my expectations. I am comforted by the reaction of Abraham and Sarah. It is not natural for most of us to embrace thoughts that are not in line with our experience. Here the trust must extend beyond what our common sense would tell us.
In the second reading, if I put myself in the place of the centurion the words of trust do not seem so difficult. On reflection, part of this may be the desperation that the father feels. My experience is faith seems to flow easier in hard times than in times where things seem to be all going well.
I find it hard to intellectually reconcile these two different responses. They are both moments for trust in a seemingly trustworthy Lord.
On revisiting these two contemplations, my heart leads me to unveil something more. I realize that it is easier for me to trust a human Jesus in the Gospel than it is to trust a nebulous Lord in the first reading. I realize the gift of God as a person. Although this is a point made in more than one Christmas sermon, I feel blessed that today’s readings took me to a greater appreciation of the incarnation.
I will bring this reflection to a close before my intellect starts to steal my consolation. This leaves me today with a prayer of thanks for a human Jesus. My prayer is also for growth in my ability to trust.
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