I read a story of a young seminarian who took a leave of absence and went to work with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. He needed time to sort things out. He wasn’t sure he had a vocation. One morning after Mass he asked Mother Teresa to pray for him. She asked him ‘what do you want me to pray for?’ He told her ‘pray that I have clarity’. Mother Teresa told him she would do not such thing. He was shocked. He asked why she wouldn’t pray that he had clarity about his vocation. He said to her you always had clarity, you always knew what you were going to do. Mother Teresa told him, ‘I never had clarity; what I’ve always had was trust. So I will pray that you trust.
Personally when I use the word faith I really me trust. Trust means believing in someone even though circumstances at the time might tempt one to question my trust. St. Paul calls Abraham our father in faith. Abraham trusted God and God’s promises even when God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, the son of his old age. He trusted God would keep his promise that he would be the father of a mighty people.
On his way to the cross Jesus trusted his Father’s love for him, even when called out, ‘my God, my God why have you abandoned me. He trusted that in the end all would be well. He trusted that the hatred and contempt that swirled around as he hung on his cross would not prevail. He trusted that his love for each of us would prevail.
At this Mass, at every Mass we make present the death of Jesus. We place the sign of death, separated body and blood. We remember and celebrate the love Jesus has for each one of us as he gave his life for us. St. Paul reminds us that it is difficult to give one’s life for a good person but what proves Christ’s love for us is that even while we were sinners, even when we were estranged from God, Christ died for us.
Every day of life we are challenged to trust, trust the love of the crucified Christ for each of us even though there are days when we don’t even trust ourselves, days when we find it hard to trust that even though we are mistake making beings, even though we may be so disappointed in ourselves, Jesus Christ loves us and will always love us.
Recently Victor Frankl died. He was a survivor of the death camps where he lost his whole family. He wrote a book titled, Man’s Search for Meaning. He was reflecting on how he survived the horror and the cruelty he witnessed during his years in the camps. Basically he said that a person can survive any ‘what’ so long as they have a ‘why’. His why was the conviction that he would see his wife again. For this to happen he must survive, he must live.
Our ‘why’ our reason for living and loving, our reason for putting up with our weaknesses and failures, our reason for not giving up on ourselves, our reason for giving thanks for the blessings and the people that enrich our lives is the truth and the wonder that God chose us before the world began to be his adopted sons and daughters. No matter what the ‘what’ of our lives may, illness, discouragement, lost love, lost job, the ‘why’ of our lives is the awesome truth that, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. As we celebrate this Eucharist together and are nourished by the Bread of Life we pray we live our daily lives in the conviction of our ‘why’ for living and loving and never giving up, that Jesus Christ loves us and gave his life for us on the gibbet of the cross.