Readings (Year A):
Reflection: What does it mean to have trust in God?
Recently, I visited a friend who has just been told he has cancer. “My doctor says I have just one month to live,” he told me, as soon as I got to his bedside. Although I held his right hand firmly, looking him in the face was difficult.
I turned to look at his wife, who was just behind me. She was in tears. “My husband is leaving me soon. What am I going to do? How am I supposed to live and raise our kids without him?” She asked. Then she added: “I don’t know if this is God’s will or not. What I know is that it is so difficult for me to accept, even though my faith and trust in God remains unshaken.” She cried as she spoke. I was trying so hard not to cry, myself.
Reading this week’s gospel passage, I could not help but think of this recent encounter with my sick friend and his devastated wife. Jesus’ announcement of his imminent passion leaves his disciples totally shattered. According to Jesus, he must go to Jerusalem to suffer. He will be put to death by the religious and political authority of the time.
As expected, this news is a bitter and hard pill for the disciples to swallow. Their beloved friend and teacher is going to leave them soon. A disgraceful death awaits him. This explains the reaction of Peter as recorded in the gospel: “God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to you.” Peter and the other disciples are only consoled when Jesus assures them that his imminent passion and death are all part of God’s will.
As Christians, submitting to the will of God, however difficult, is always the ideal. But what does it mean to submit to the will of God? It certainly does not mean refusing to explore possible cures for a sickness, refusing to seek concrete solutions to socioeconomic poverty, or doing nothing in the face of injustice and oppression.
On the contrary, submitting to the will of God is all about faith and trust in God’s undying love and mercy, in God’s protection, deliverance, and salvation. It is the assurance that God never abandons us—even in the face of unexplainable sickness. It is the confidence that God is with us in all our struggles—whether against sickness, against injustice, or human-made poverty. It is the assurance that we shall ultimately triumph by the power of God.
Jesus, in our gospel, describes this faith and trust in God as denying one’s life in order to find it more abundantly in God. The prophet Jeremiah, in our first reading today, describes this faith and trust as allowing oneself to be duped by the Lord.
It is this faith and trust that empowers us to remain hopeful, even as we keep working to make the world a better place for everyone. It is this faith and trust that empowers us to remain on the side of truth, on the side of justice, on the side of God—no matter what.