The real issue is Trust

7 November 2020 Saturday of week 31 in Ordinary Time

Philippians 4:10-19
It is a great joy to me, in the Lord, that at last you have shown some concern for me again; though of course you were concerned before, and only lacked an opportunity. I am not talking about shortage of money: I have learnt to manage on whatever I have; I know how to be poor and I know how to be rich too. I have been through my initiation and now I am ready for anything anywhere: full stomach or empty stomach, poverty or plenty. There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength. All the same, it was good of you to share with me in my hardships. In the early days of the Good News, as you people of Philippi well know, when I left Macedonia, no other church helped me with gifts of money. You were the only ones; and twice since my stay in Thessalonika you have sent me what I needed. It is not your gift that I value; what is valuable to me is the interest that is mounting up in your account. Now for the time being I have everything that I need and more: I am fully provided now that I have received from Epaphroditus the offering that you sent, a sweet fragrance – the sacrifice that God accepts and finds pleasing. In return my God will fulfil all your needs, in Christ Jesus, as lavishly as only God can.

Psalm 111(112)        Happy the man who fears the Lord. Beato l’uomo che teme il Signore.

Luke 16:9-15
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you this: use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you, they will welcome you into the tents of eternity. The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great; the man who is dishonest in little things will be dishonest in great. If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches? And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?  ‘No servant can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.’  The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, ‘You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God.’

+ Dal Vangelo secondo Luca
In quel tempo, Gesù diceva ai discepoli: «Fatevi degli amici con la ricchezza disonesta, perché, quando questa verrà a mancare, essi vi accolgano nelle dimore eterne. Chi è fedele in cose di poco conto, è fedele anche in cose importanti; e chi è disonesto in cose di poco conto, è disonesto anche in cose importanti. Se dunque non siete stati fedeli nella ricchezza disonesta, chi vi affiderà quella vera? E se non siete stati fedeli nella ricchezza altrui, chi vi darà la vostra? Nessun servitore può servire due padroni, perché o odierà l’uno e amerà l’altro, oppure si affezionerà all’uno e disprezzerà l’altro. Non potete servire Dio e la ricchezza». I farisei, che erano attaccati al denaro, ascoltavano tutte queste cose e si facevano beffe di lui. Egli disse loro: «Voi siete quelli che si ritengono giusti davanti agli uomini, ma Dio conosce i vostri cuori: ciò che fra gli uomini viene esaltato, davanti a Dio è cosa abominevole».
Parola del Signore


The developmental psychologist Erik Erikson’s seminal work was the exploration of the Eight Ages of Human development.  At the core of the very first stage of our development as people is the dialectic of Trust versus Mistrust.  It seems that our capacity to trust is intimately connected to our early experiences of love and the consistency or inconsistency of love in our lives.  Whatever shape this takes, it colours our perceptions of life from then on, with our attitudes towards others including God being intimately affected. 

When we listen to the readings today, we might think that money is the problem.  But in fact, it is only the symptom.  No, the real issue trust.  If I need money or any other prop to build my sense of security, the temptation is also to use God to build my sense of security.  We get into bargaining with God.  If you (God) do this for me, then I will do this for you, as some form of assurance that my life will be held safely.  This is one of the classical spiritual blind spots.  The Gospel it would seem is an invitation to shift my perspective to recognise that God’s love is always consistent and completely reliable and that I can trust what God is doing, even when I have no idea of what is going on, or in times of great human insecurity.  Erickson himself discovered that even if a child learns mistrust in early life every succeeding moment of development is an opportunity to grow into trust.  This is why heart spirituality is such a redeeming pathway.  Let us keep as our focus the riches found in the heart of God and trust in the pathways we discern are those of his Spirit.