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Daily Mass Reflections - 11/26

Updated on December 13, 2021

“The more things you possess, the more your things possess you” ~ My Grandmother

Today’s Gospel (Luke 21:1-4) tells the story of the impoverished widow who gave her last penny to the Temple treasury. Her act of charity and sacrifice affords us the opportunity to consider our culture’s seemingly unending desire to accumulate possessions and partake of the multitude of creature comforts available to us, seemingly at every turn. We’ve been tricked into believing that our unhappiness is rooted in the fact that we do not have all the things that we should have, desire to have, or for that matter, are entitled to.

This of course leads to a life relegated to the constant and never ending quest to get, to acquire, to attain. Ironically enough however, that which brings true happiness is always right in front of us, for it is love, love of God and love of neighbor, that yields genuine fulfillment. As we seek to transform our lives so that they are rooted in this truth, we come to realize that love is not a feeling. It is instead the act of an enlightened soul, which culminates in a spirit of “dispossession” if you will, emptying one’s self of that which is fleeting, that which can never truly satisfy. The love that Jesus speaks of is that of the eternal variety, and he so desires each and every one of us to have it. For some reason however, we settle for “Black Friday Bonanzas” and “Doorbuster Discounts.” Go figure.

But the widow in today’s Gospel has something going on that’s more than mere faith in God. Faithful yes, but her faith was fueled by trust. Faith and trust are often used interchangeably, as though they're one and the same. I do not believe that they are. Not quite.

Secular Humanists, a rapidly growing group in America, happen to agree with me on this point. Well, at least in part. Here’s an excerpt from Christoper Hitchens, one of their more prominent leaders, on the topic of faith versus trust:

“Unfortunately, faith is too common. The best example of faith in practice is religion and all its intended and unintended fall-out. Billions of global citizens claim to be believers adhering to one faith versus another. Certainly, we’re entitled to believe in spiritual Easter Bunnies and Magic Men and even Flying Spaghetti Monsters if we so choose to. Everyone should have his or her right to believe in Tarot Cards or Santa Claus and have faith that flying reindeer will arrive once a year bearing a new plasma television.”

He goes on to say that “While the faithful place their lives at the supposed goodwill of a theoretical supreme being, we secular-humanists are forced to rely on each other. Accordingly, we are required to have trust in each other — which is actually the noblest of virtues. Not faith, but trust.”

Their disdain for God notwithstanding, this group offers insight into the difference between faith and trust. The widow in today’s Gospel clearly had faith, not to mention an immeasurably generous heart, Jesus-like to be precise. But she also had trust. Trust that God would somehow provide for her, this despite the fact that she had given away her last coin in an act of almost incomprehensible charity. Her last penny. That’s trust in spades.

So while the avaricious denizens of the material world forge ahead in near zombie-like fashion seeking to accumulate possessions and the secular humanists tell us that faith is folly while trust, placed apparently in the byproduct of the creator - eschewing the actual creator in the process - is king, the genuine believer must seek to combine faith AND trust so as to make them the bedrock foundation of a vibrant Christian existence. For it is these virtues, working in lock step with each other, that allow us to walk in the very footsteps of our faithful, trusting and generous Savior Jesus Christ.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6


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