Next Sunday being the first Sunday of Advent, today is the last Sunday of our Christian year. A good time to take stock of the year that we leave behind, with its ups and downs. For all of us, in varying degrees, there have been joys and sorrows, fears, concerns, bad news, relief, the whole gamut of human experience. For some of us, it has been a very dark year, a year in which we learn that we have cancer, a year in which a loved one dies who wasn’t supposed to die. All of those incidents which always lead to our asking the question “why?”. “Why did you allow this to happen to me? To us?”. Of course, as you know, God never answers that question. But with respect to the bad things that he allows to happen in our lives and the lives of those we love, he doesn’t leave us dangling. He provided us, over the course of a Christian lifetime, with an accumulation of reasons to know (in faith, of course) that we must trust him and more importantly, that we can.
God deposits these reasons in our lives on a regular basis. They take the form of things that happen, of things that are said to us, of things that we learn about indirectly, but that are relevant to us as reasons to trust in God. The trick, of course, is to see them. The eyes with which we see the reasons to trust him that God deposits in our lives as grace, a gift of the Holy Spirit, but the grace is enhanced infinitely for those who are actually, actively searching for those reasons which we need so badly.
This being the case, it might be a useful exercise to look back on the year that we have just lived, in search of incidents, things that were said, anything at all, that is actually a reason to know that we can trust God. “Those who search, find”. If you discover anything in the past year that was actually a reason to know that you can trust in God, make a conscious effort to consign it to memory. Remind yourself of it on a regular basis. When the next blow comes, it will be there for you. It will shore up your confidence in God and restore your serenity.
One final suggestion which contributes, I believe, to the accumulation of reasons that we hold to know that we can trust God, is to develop the habit of asking the question “why?” systematically; not only when bad things happen, but also when good things happen. “Why have you blessed me/us, in such a lavish way?”. This habit deepens the virtue of thankfulness, and helps to retain the remembrance of all the good things that the Lord in his providence has done for us, which also happens to be so many reasons for believing that we can trust in Him, no matter what comes to pass.
Finally and most importantly, since it is all a matter of grace, let us pray that we will all be gifted with eyes to see the reasons we all have for trusting in God, no matter what. Let us be always so bold as to ask the Father to reconcile us with the harsh things that he allows to happen in our lives.
On a more down-to-earth level, today we are having a second special collection for Project Advance. You might have seen in last Sunday’s bulletin that we are only at 56% of our parish goal and the end of the year is just around the corner. I’m not too proud to beg: please give!
God bless, Fr. Guy