During the last month, Jesus has been reminding us that being his disciple isn’t easy.
It takes courage and commitment. It isn’t enough to eat and drink with Jesus on Sunday and listen to his words. Discipleship is a daily way of living. We must make an effort to live what we have heard from Jesus. And, as Jesus nourishes us, we must be willing to nourish each other.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews offers us a very needed reminder as we struggle each day to be a disciple. Our God created each of us because God is love. Everything that we experience in our life is part of God’s loving providence for us – even the difficulties and trials. The writer encourages us not to forget this basic truth. And he compares God’s care for us to a parent’s care. A loving parent disciplines a son or daughter for loving reasons – to help the child grow as a person. Our loving God treats us in the same way.
In order to be able to appreciate this truth, we must first be willing to accept as true that our God loves us with an everlasting love. God’s great desire for us is that we be one with God, right now here on this earth and forever in eternity. You know, the Gospel reminds us that to enter the kingdom of God, we will need the strength that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had to trust in God’s goodness. Here are a few of St. Francis de Sales’ thoughts on developing the confidence to trust in God’s goodness:
Trust in God is the life of the soul. To develop trust in God we must learn to love God’s goodness. We can experience God’s goodness if we open up our heart and allow God to enter. We must learn to speak to God and hear God speak to us in the depths of our heart. It is here that we begin to acquire affection for the things of God.
It seems we lack strength and confidence to trust in God in times of trial. When we feel this way, we must say to Our Lord, ‘even though I feel no confidence in you, I know that you are my God, I place myself completely in your hands, and hope in your goodness’. While this is difficult to say it is not impossible. The more we recognize ourselves as lacking strength to trust in God, the greater reason we have to confidently trust in God’s goodness and mercy. In your soul, you are bringing forth Jesus Christ. Until He is born in you, you cannot help suffering from your labor. Yet, God is as gentle and merciful when we are weak and imperfect as when we are strong and perfect.
When our strength and confidence to love the things of God increases, we let go of our lesser loves that are not of God. Seeking only the kingdom of God and desiring to witness our trust in God’s goodness to others become life giving. When we trust in God, we will always reap the fruits of our confidence in God’s goodness. Like mariners, who to arrive at the port they are bound for, look at the sky above them rather than down on the sea on which they sail, so you ought to look to God. God will work with you, in you and for you. As a result, your confidence to trust in God’s goodness will be strengthened.
(Adapted from the writings of St. Francis de Sales)