“…in God I trust…” (Ps. 56:11)
This is an equation and it is an equation comprised of two parts. The first part is God in all the glory and transcendent mystery of who God is. As Church we are called, first and foremost, to always proclaim the glory of God and to give fitting honor and worship to God. God is always the first and necessary part of the equation but there is a second part to the equation and that is the human person. We each have a role to play and it is important that we do it.
“I trust.” This is the second part. I make the choice to believe in God. I make the choice to exercise my will in faith, in hope and for the true and the good. My choice to exercise my will is a critical component in the equation found in psalm 56. The psalm is rich in the description of the weight of persecution that the psalmist is enduring but even more so in the psalmist’s continuing decision to cry out to the Lord in trust even in the midst of that persecution.
Recently I was invited to Knoxville Catholic High School to celebrate their all school Mass. The school is celebrating its twentieth year at their current campus and I was chaplain “back in the day” when the school moved from its old site to the new campus. Being back on campus brought back many memories of my time there and has led to some reflection on my part.
In high school (and youth ministry in general) adults work to bring our young people into moments of encounter with our Lord (i.e. going to the chapel for adoration or to pray the rosary, teaching lectio divina, having Bible study, going to youth conferences, going on mission trips, etc.). This is all well and good and there are certainly graces that come from these moments but the critical juncture of any person’s journey of faith is their own exercise of their will. Something critically important happens when I make the choice to trust in God and no one else – no matter even how good their intention – can do this for me. I have to do it.
To make myself clear – even though I share experiences from high school and youth ministry above - this is not a reflection just in regards to young people rather, it is for all people and for all ages. The equation of faith is an equation for all of life. Am I exercising my will? Am I making the choice to believe? Or, am I just coasting? Am I being spiritually lazy and slothful? It is quite easy to find excuses to not exercise our wills in regards to faith and our world is quite eager to support any and all of our excuses but excuses and laziness go nowhere and lead to no true life and value.
Sacred Scripture witnesses in abundance that something utterly unique occurs when the person exercises his or her will in faith – a place of encounter between the person and God is opened up and grace is known. The disciples make the choice to follow Jesus and put their faith in him. The leper makes the choice to cry out for healing. The sinner makes the choice to humbly ask for forgiveness. The Church makes the choice to trust and to endure. This is the continuing role we have in the equation of faith and it is where ever new life and growth is found. “Your faith has saved you,” our Lord often responds in these moments. He is calling our attention to something important – the exercising of our own will in faith.
A question for reflection: where am I in the equation of faith? Am I (in ever new and challenging ways) exercising my will and growing in faith and life or have I gotten lazy? Do I need to step up my game?
We are each part of the equation of faith, this is the way God has set it up. No one else can do it for us and living by excuses goes nowhere.
“…in God I trust…”