Trust in God Still - Fifth Sunday of Easter

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Trust in God Still - Fifth Sunday of Easter

The Gospel text read today is often chosen for funeral Masses. It is one of my favourite passages for a funeral Mass: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me”.

These words were spoken by the Lord at the Last Supper. He is preparing his disciples for what is about to happen, though they have no idea of what will lie ahead for them. The Lord wanted to encourage them to learn to trust in the Lord when things go dark and uncertain.

It is so true that when things are going well for us we are naturally confident and happy. Indeed we can become quite self-confident, to the extent that we begin to rely solely on ourselves. We can become proud and independent, thinking that we are capable of managing life by ourselves.

It is only when things start to go wrong, when insurmountable difficulties rise up before us, when we meet obstacles to our will, we come to face the reality of our own frailty and inability to cope.

The next point is – what do we do in such situations? We can become angry or frustrated. We can blame others and complain. We can become hard to live with. Such a reaction is an expression of our own self will. It is a sign of our hurt pride or of our self-centredness. Honesty it is saying that we are not getting our own way and so we react.

Or when we are faced with such problems we can choose to turn to the Lord in the midst of our darkness and uncertainty. We can come to rely upon him and not just rely upon ourselves. We can give over our burdens and worries to him, and not try to carry them all by ourselves. We can entrust our needs to him, turning to the one who we know truly loves us. We can wait upon his guidance, and not just press on with our own efforts to overcome our problems.

This second way is the way for inner peace. This way is the way in which we give expression to our humility. We are acknowledging that we cannot do it alone. This is not to say that we become passive and shirk our responsibilities but we are not relying upon ourselves alone. The Lord said, “behold I am with you always even to the end of time”. The Lord, the risen Lord, is with us. He will not desert or abandon us.
This is precisely what he was seeking to communicate to his disciples at the Last Supper. He was preparing them for the fact that he would be leaving them – he would be crucified and die – but in his risen life he would return to them. He said, “I am going now to prepare a place for you”.

The disciples were confused by what he was saying. Phillip said, “we do not know where you are going”. Jesus’s response is important for us: “I am the way, the truth and the life”. What is says is important for us. Jesus is saying that what is important is not where he is going, but the fact that we have a relationship with him. For each of us, it is not the fact that the Lord reigns in heaven, but the fact that our faith enables us to have a living relationship with him whereby he is with us – he is in our hearts and he is engaged with our lives. 

To illustrate this I would like to speak about the image of the Divine Mercy, particularly noting its caption, “Jesus, I trust in you”. The revelations to St Faustina occurred in Poland in the 1930s in a period when Poland enjoyed what would be a brief period of peace and independence. As we know soon it would be invaded by the Nazis and suffer terribly. It would be the place in which a number of the Concentration Camps – like Auschwitz - were built. Then Poland would suffer under Communism, particularly during the very dark days under Stalin. This Catholic nation was about to enter a period of terrible darkness and suffering which would endure for nearly fifty years.

Sister Faustina lived in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow. This simple nun who had little formal education and carried out the humblest of tasks in the convent was chosen to receive revelations from the Lord concerning Divine Mercy.

On February 22, 1931, the Lord appeared to her offering a message of Mercy for all mankind. Saint Faustina tells us in her diary under this date:

In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale.

In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, “paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You”.

The Lord explained the meaning of this image saying to 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. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross .... Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him.

Sr Faustina was encouraged to promote a devotion to the Divine Mercy. It began to spread in Poland particularly. One person who came to embrace the message was the future Pope – now Saint – John Paul II.

The Lord longed that the message of the mercy of God be communicated to people. It is a message about the depths of the love of God for humanity, for each individual. This merciful love is discovered when the person approaches Jesus in a spirit of trust and abandonment to him. A person who is aware of their weakness and struggles comes before Jesus with a humble heart. God is a God of mercy and compassion. He longs for us to approach Him with an open and humble heart marked by a simple trust in him.

Just as Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me”, so he invites us to approach him in the same way. The words placed at the foot of the image of Divine Mercy can be words we say often to the Lord, “Jesus I trust in you”. 

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, 18 May 2014