Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
A popular Peanuts cartoon shows Charlie Brown going to a vacant lot to kick his football around. Lucy appears and offers to hold the football so that Charlie can get a good run and better kick-off. Charlie says to her, “Do you think I’m crazy? Do you think you can fool me with your same old trick every year?” A repentant Lucy says, “This year I promise not to pull the football away just when you’re about to kick it. I give you my solemn word.” Charlie thinks for a minute and says, “Okay! I’ll give you one more chance. I’ll trust you one more time.” As he walks away to get a good run, Charlie says to himself, “We should trust people, no matter what. If you can’t trust people, life isn’t worth living.” With that he begins his run. Just as he brings his leg through for the kick, Lucy pulls the ball away. Charlie’s leg goes out from under him and he goes sprawling to the ground. Charlie lies on the ground thinking to himself, “You can’t trust anyone anymore. I’ll never trust anyone again, as long as I live.”
We can relate to Charlie Brown as he lies on the ground. We can relate to him because we ourselves have seen people’s trust betrayed so many times. The papers are full of stories of elderly couples who trusted some real estate agent only to have the agent swindle them out of their life savings. And how often have we seen a nation trust an elected official, only to have the official betray that trust by selling out to some powerful lobby in the capital? What is even worse is that we ourselves have had our own trust betrayed by someone close to us. We trust a friend with a secret and the friend tells it to someone. We trust a son or a daughter, and we discover that he or she is unworthy of that trust. We trust a loved one, and we discover that the loved one is cheating on us. Like Charlie Brown, we find ourselves saying, “You can’t trust anyone anymore. I’ll never trust anyone again, as long as I live.”
What can we do when we find ourselves in this situation? What can we do when we find we are no longer able to trust anyone – even those closest to us? The answer is found in today’s Scripture readings. They remind us that there is still someone who we can trust. And that someone is God. In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah says that even if a mother should forget her infant and be without tenderness for it, God will never forget us or abandon us. We can always trust him. He is always faithful. And in the gospel reading, Jesus assures us that the God who shows such providential concern for nature is even more concerned about us. He will never let us down. He is someone we can always trust, no matter what. The kind of trust that today’s readings invite us to place in God is illustrated by a beautiful story. Several years ago, in Chicago, a 12-year-old boy named Jon lost his mother through a rare illness. She died shortly after being rushed to the hospital one day, Jon said later: “After mom’s death, I would wander about the house aimlessly, going from room to room. I was utterly confused and lost. I missed my mother terribly. Everything she ever touched became precious to me: her prayer book on her bedside table, the little yellow bucket she used to water her plants, the vacuum cleaner she used to clean my room.” Then one day Jon’s eyes spotted a card under the glass top of his dresser. He recalled seeing it there for the first time just before his mother went to the hospital. But he didn’t bother to read it then. Now, excited, he pulled it out and read. It said:
“For ev’ry pain we must bear, for ev’ry burden, ev’ry care, there’s a reason.
For ev’ry grief that bows the head, for ev’re teardrop that is shed, there’s a reason.
For ev’ry hurt, for ev’ry plight, for ev’ry lonely, pain-racked night, there’s a reason.
But if we trust God, as we should, it will turn out for good. He knows the reason.”
“As I sat there,” said Jon, “I could picture my mom coming into my room before going to the hospital and putting the card there, as if to say: ‘It’s all right, Jon. God knows the reason.’” “From that moment on,” said Jon, “I was able to cope with my mom’s death. Her own trust in God rubbed off on me.” That story brings us back to the cartoon of Charlie Brown and to the problem it raised: Charlie’s inability to trust again. It is this same problem that Jesus addresses in today’s gospel. He says to us what the psalmist says in today’s responsorial psalm: “Trust in God at all times, my people.”
Let’s end with a prayer. Please bow your heads and pray along with me in silence: Lord, teach us to trust you the way Jon and his mother did when they said, “If we trust God, as we should, it will turn out for our good. He knows the reason.” Lord, teach us to trust you the way Jesus urged his followers to trust you in today’s gospel. Lord, help us trust you the way Mary did when the angel told her she would bear a son, even though she was a virgin. Lord, help us trust you the way Jesus did when he prayed on the cross, “Father! In your hands I place my spirit!” (Luke 23:46)
God Bless You,