July 2020 Allocutio
Trust in God still
Fr. Paul Churchill
Over the past few months, as I listened with interest to news items and discussions, I could have been tempted to be depressed. The best experts still know little about the virus. The virus continues to spread with recent renewed spikes in places. There is uncertainty about who might have it, who might spread it and how your body will respond if you get it. Millions have lost income. The future is uncertain. Yes, it could get you down.
But in there, in the midst of it all, I heard a voice saying: Paul, just trust. You will be okay. And in that Gospel passage from the Last Supper, I could not but hear that voice again: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still. Trust in me”. And if we just go down a few lines from that passage we hear Jesus say, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Don’t let your hearts be troubled”. And remember He asks us to trust just as He is about to be crucified!
One day in late March or early April I asked Jesus to take this virus away and kill it off. But immediately I felt him say, “No. Trust. It is I. I am making something new!” And all I could reply was, “Your will be done. I’ll trust. I won’t even try to shadow-guess the future. I’ll accept what you send and since it will be yours that will be okay by me!”
One of the main words I have heard from experts is that word uncertainty. Maybe we were too cock-sure of ourselves. We thought we could control it all. The Lord may, in some way, be saying, “I am the master and you are always dependent on me, for everything!” But through it all He wants us to develop ever deeper in ourselves those words He so often said to the disciples when they were afraid or upset, “It is I. Don’t be afraid. Trust in me.”
By the way trust in God is not the same as throwing caution to the wind. We do well to listen to the voice of the scientists and decisions the lawful authority makes. So, we must be prudent. But after that we do well to listen to God’s call to trust. “Listen to the voice of the Lord, a voice that speaks of peace!”
Jesus wants us to know that not only has He all His flock in view but you also are personally loved and cared for. “I your God will take you by the hand. I say to you don’t be afraid. I will help you. I am your redeemer, your helper” (Is 41:8-13). Or I think of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 23). They were down. Their world was shattered. They did not know the stranger with them.
We do not know the outcome of this virus. We do not know for how long we must continue in this cloud of unknowing. But what is constant and remains is that the Lord is with us. He is asking us to stay calm and trust.
“Trust in God still”. They are His words within 24 hours of His passion. Despite facing terrible suffering He is prepared to trust in God still. From the Cross He says, “Into your hands I commend my spirit!” His trust wins out in the huge struggle to trust the love of His Father in the face of pain and personal annihilation.
In the context of the Cross I cannot but allude to those great words said of Our Lady by Pope (St) John Paul. Mary had been told by the angel at the Annunciation that her son would be great. But now “standing at the foot of the Cross, Mary is the witness, humanly speaking, of the complete negation of those words … How great, how heroic then is the obedience of faith shown by Mary in the face of God’s ‘unsearchable’ judgements”. At the foot of the Cross she shared her son’s agony in the struggle. Let us ask her motherly love and protection but above all the grace to trust no matter what unfolds.
I was immediately struck by the following, that the first day this coronavirus was recognised for what it was, happened to be the 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Nor can I overlook the fact that the reason the Miraculous Medal is so called is that when it was first struck and distributed it coincided with an outbreak of cholera in Paris. The Parisiens attributed the quick overcoming of the outbreak and the fact that so many were saved to the medal and its prayer. It would be very appropriate that we legionaries renew our trust in that medal and prayer and promote it at this time.
So, let us trust in God still. And let us trust the safety net of His love for us all even should the worse happen. Trust despite an unclear future. Trust in spite of sickness, disappointment, failure, and even God not answering your prayer. Trust in the face of death. Trust in God still because His love never goes out. And let us trust in the motherly love of Mary for all her children. So we say: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.