TRUST IN THE LORD FOREVER, FOR THE LORD IS AN ETERNAL ROCK. These words of the prophecy of Isaiah are an exhortation intended to give courage to a defeated people tempted to discouragement. Brief as they are they give expression to a vision that gives meaning and significance to the whole of life. For trust is an act that arises from the deeper regions of the soul where a person gives direction and purpose to existence. To trust in the Lord is to give over into his care our very self. The disposition to trust, in fact, is the primordial core of the human personality. All subsequent stages of human personality development depend radically on the individual's ability to trust, so that if basic trust is weak, and the child is beset with a strong tendency to mistrust, character formation will be impaired at each level of growth. Thus trust is at the core of the personality; it plays a critical role in the quality of our relationships with others.
Trust is an act that does homage to another; it is closely related to respect and to love and includes some measure of both. We can love some one, and yet not trust that person; we cannot trust our self to another, however, without love and respect for that person. Trust not only gives expression to love, it awakens and strongly stimulates it. Discovering that some one trusts you in some particular opens our heart to that person and inclines us to respond to the expectation implied in the act of trust. Our response tends to be proportionate to the depth and intensity of the trust that is manifested. For some one to trust his welfare to us, to trust us with the offer of his friendship inclines us to respond with love. Before we put our trust in him, nonetheless, we do well to test his character as St. Aelred strongly advises. For trust adds to love the note of confidence in the reliability of the trusted one.
To trust in the Lord, then, implies more than looking to him for a particular favor or assistance in time of need, though it certainly includes that. What the prophetic words exhort us to do is to surrender our very self to God; we are to belong to him by our choice. We can make this act of self-giving with confidence, for Isaiah here assures us that the Lord is trustworthy; we can rely on his caring for us and his acceptance of us for he is faithful to his promises, firmly reliable as a rock. Moreover, our trust can be without limit of time for he does not change in the firmness of his reliability. As the Hebrew text states it literally, for in the Lord Adonai is rock of ages.'
Our Lord was very responsive to any one who put their faith and trust in him. When he asked for faith and made it a condition for his being able and willing to come to the help of those in need, he obviously meant to include the note of trust. Faith as he used the term is not confined to an assent of the mind in the truth of his teaching, it entails trust that he is a reliable emissary of God and that he will respond when confidence is placed in his person. Trust clearly created possibilities for divine intervention that otherwise he was unable to assure, we are informed. In today's Gospel Jesus clarifies his teaching on trust when he insists that it is not enough to state one's belief in words, calling to him Lord, Lord'. To be found pleasing to God and to have a firm trust in being welcomed by him into the kingdom, we must carry out his will by our acts. Matthew is not alone in depicting Jesus' insistence on this requirement which is a proof of love as well as a test of trust: If you love me you will keep my commandments', John reports Jesus as saying at the Last Supper.
The Eucharist we are offering in this liturgy is an occasion to increase our trust in the Lord and to provide us with the strength we need to act in conformity with God's will in our daily lives. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of trust is to be confident that the Lord truly interests himself with us, and does so because he desires to unite himself to us in love. We are too aware of our unworthiness to find it easy to believe that we are invited to be friends with the Lord, sharing with him the secrets of his knowledge and love of the Father. The Eucharist is not only a pledge of such friendship, but produces and enhances it. May the trust it inspires in us today prove as enduring as the prophet calls for so that our trust truly will last for all the ages of eternity.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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