Catholics celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday yesterday. “Jesus, I trust in you” is its simple but profound theme. Divine Mercy Sunday is based on revelations to a Polish nun of the early 20th century, St. Faustina Kowalska. Jesus appeared to her in visions. He urged the world to partake of the streams of mercy flowing from his pierced heart. The portrait based on one vision depicts Jesus with two rays of light radiating from his heart. The rays are red and white, respectively. They signify the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side after his death (see Jn 19:34). At the base of the portrait is the legend, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
This morning as I prayed, I was telling the Lord that not being God isn’t easy. For example, He knows the future, and I don’t. I don’t know the trajectory of the rising hostility to Christianity in the U.S. I don’t how to prepare. I don’t know if preparation is necessary or even possible. On another front, the number of Catholics leaving the Church is growing. On the part of the Church, there are several reasons. These include mediocre preaching, lackluster music, and parishes that often do too little to welcome newcomers or foster any connections at all. On the part of the culture, the reign of relativism and rampant individualism makes any institution claiming absolute truth and demanding obedience and sacrifice deeply suspect. So, is the Western Church on the verge of much-needed renewal and revitalization? Will it take all-out persecution to rouse us Christians from our complacency and stupor? What’s your plan, Lord?
Not being all-powerful is also difficult for me. I know that in my practice, I’m touching some people and making some differences. But my efforts are a drop in an ocean of pain – of broken relationships, difficult marriages, trauma, abuse, and addiction. My wife and I have helped bring some people closer to Jesus, too – through church ministry, hospitality, and simply trying to love people where they’re at. But how many sheep without shepherds there are! We’re barely making a dent. And on the larger scale, it’s easier simply not to watch the news than constantly to face messes on the national and global level that seem unfixable.
Being all-loving would be nice, too. I continue to be surprised at how touchy and petty I can be. The list of people I need to forgive and re-forgive for minor offenses seems to refresh itself relentlessly. I have to do First World forgiveness of First World trespasses. I can’t imagine dealing with real forgiveness – the kind that the Copts and other Christians throughout the Muslim world and in China have to deal with. Or that struggling people with or without faith right here in the U.S. face daily.
It was then that the phrase “Jesus, I trust in you” came to mind. At the same moment, I recalled how Jesus appeared to St. Paul and knocked him flat. Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul…it hurts you to kick against the goads”(Acts 26:14). That is, just as a mule only hurts itself in resisting the mule driver, St. Paul was hurting himself by resisting the reality that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord. God is God. I am not. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving. I am not. Perhaps instead of kicking against that reality, I could trust and thank Jesus for it.
Jesus, I trust in you. I trust you because you are all-knowing. Because you hold my future in your hands, I can stop grasping it so tightly. I thank you that you foresee all ends, so that I don’t have to. I thank you that all I need to do is the next right thing and entrust the rest to your care. I thank you that “all times and seasons obey your laws” (Preface V of Eucharistic Prayer IV for Ordinary Time), so that somehow your plan will be accomplished. I thank you that no matter how things look, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing will be well” (St. Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love). I thank you that my job is to stay in the present moment, to praise and bless you for what is, right now. I thank you that it’s okay for me not to know, not to have a solution, not to have wisdom to offer – because you do.
Jesus, I trust in you. I trust you because you are all-powerful. You can provide for me, and through me for others. I don’t have to worry about my limited resources, because “where there is God, there is no need” (Leo Tolstoy). I thank you that only in you, infinite power is yoked to infinite goodness – absolute power without corruption. I thank you that “apart from [you, I] can do nothing”(Jn 15:5), but that with you and in you all things are possible. I thank you that whatever situations arise, you are never stymied, stuck, or at a loss. I thank you that your infinite power can bring good out of any situation “for those who love God and are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). I thank you, that in the words of AA’s 12th Promise, you “are doing for us what we could not do for ourselves”. I thank you that I don’t need to be in control, because you are.
Jesus, I trust in you. I trust you because you are all-loving. I thank you that your infinite love broke open even this cold heart of mine. I thank you that your never-ending love casts each moment of my life in a new light. I thank you for the beauty that your love brings forth in every heart it touches. I thank you for putting people in my life that I find hard or impossible to love. That way, I learn once again that your grace is sufficient for me, as you give me your love with which to love them.
Jesus, I trust in you. I trust the mercy radiating from your wounded side. The blood and water flowing from your pierced heart make the desert of my heart a garden where you can dwell. There I – faint of vision, weak of resolve, and cold of heart – can rejoice that all knowledge, power, and love are yours. Jesus, I trust in you.