March 27, 2020

Reflection / Natalie Hoefer

A triple call to trust

Natalie HoeferI have a cousin who is an assistant principal of a high school in southern Indiana. We spoke the other day about the effectiveness of e-learning as families shelter in place due to the coronavirus.

He commented that many of his school’s students live in remote areas without Internet access, so e-learning has been a challenge.

“Next fall, teachers are going to have to teach things that kids didn’t really learn this year,” he said. “They can’t move on with their own curriculum until the kids have that foundation of knowledge.”

The same can be said of our spiritual journey and relationship with Christ: we can’t really grow or move forward without a firm handle on some elements foundational to any relationship. For instance, trust in God.

Trust so essential to our relationship with God. Yet our inability to trust him is an obstinance with roots deep in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve just couldn’t trust that God had their best interest at heart when he forbade them to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Let’s face it—lack of trust in God’s commands has never brought good results. Look at the Hebrews in the Old Testament. Their distrust in the goodness of God’s laws and plans led to generations-worth of wandering, captivity and turmoil.

Not that we’re much better, not even after God sent his only Son to die for our salvation. Such mistrust not only hurts us, but Christ as well. He said as much to a Polish nun in a series of visions in the 1930s.

The mistrust of “even chosen souls … wounds My Heart!” she quoted Christ as saying in her chronicle of the visions, The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. “Remember my Passion, and if you do not believe My words, at least believe My wounds” (Diary, 379).

We stand now, in mid-April 2020, in the confluence of a triple call to trust.

First, just a few days ago we memorialized the salvation Christ won for us by his wounds, death and resurrection. He calls us to trust in that salvation and in the radical, all-consuming love for us that drove him to the cross.

Next, we’re certainly being challenged to trust in God in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. We’ve been hit with a two-by-four of truth: that we, despite our efforts, are not in control. So much is uncertain now.

But it’s through just such uncertainty that God beckons us to entrust to him our hopes, our plans, our loved ones and our lives. He calls us to believe what he told the prophet Jeremiah, that his plans are for our “welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer 29:11).

The third stream of this call to trust that we’re now encountering will take place on April 19. It’s the fruit of several tasks Christ assigned to St. Faustina.

One task was to establish “the first Sunday after Easter [to] be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 299). On April 30, 2000, on the same day he canonized St. Faustina, St. John Paul II established this feast in the Church’s liturgical calendar for the Sunday following Easter.

Christ also presented her an image to have painted and promoted. It depicts Christ stepping out of the darkness with one hand in blessing and the other pulling aside his tunic at the chest to reveal two streams of red and luminescent white issuing from his Sacred Heart.

“The two rays denote blood and water,” Christ told her. “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls …” (Diary, 299).

“Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. … I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish” (Diary, 47, 48).

Now that’s not a free ticket to sin without sorrow and still slide safely through the pearly gates. Sin damages and can even kill our relationship with God. But when we do sin, God desires us to seek his mercy with a repentant heart, no matter how grave the sin.

Calling upon his mercy is the “A” of the “ABCs” of the message Christ asked St. Faustina to spread: always ask for God’s mercy; be merciful to others; and completely trust in Jesus.

The feast, the image and the message of Divine Mercy are for all times. But what better time than during this pandemic to come to trust in God’s infinite mercy and in the goodness of his plans for us. And what better time to start than this Divine Mercy Sunday.

Like school students missing foundational knowledge, we won’t be able to move forward in our faith journey until we learn this lesson of trust in God.

The same is true of the world—as Christ told St. Faustina, “Mankind will not have peace until it turns [to God] with trust ...” (Diary, 300).

(Natalie Hoefer is a reporter for The Criterion.)

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