2004—Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time—C
Unless you have eagle eyes, I doubt whether you can tell what bill I have in my hand, its denomination, whose picture is on it, or if there is a monument on it. But there is one thing you can be sure of. That's "in God we trust". All of our "currency" has those words etched in coin or printed on paper. In God we trust. But really, what difference do those words make? When you pay for something with a single, or a five, do you think "in God we trust" is part of the transaction? Or, if it comes to the collection and you are not supporting the church by means of automatic deduction and you put in a ten or a twenty, (because that's what it takes to run a parish these days) are you conscious of the fact that those words "in God we trust" are part of your offering. (Perhaps the collection is the best place for that expression!) As you may know there are constituencies in this country that would like those words to be removed from our currency. For some who do not believe that there is a God to trust in, these words belie the issue of the separation of church and state. Imagine if you would, a currency without those words. Would it really make a difference? Is that where genuine trust in God resides? On a piece of paper or a silver coin.
Today's scriptures ask us to think about whether we trust in God and what that expression means. Jeremiah puts it bluntly. Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings. He is like a tree whose roots are cut off from the real life source. Blessed is the one who trusts in God. That person has roots that stretch to the source and will continue to bear fruit even in the midst of all opposing forces.
It's a powerful image but what does it mean practically? "In God we trust". Does it mean that God solves all our problems or answers all our prayers in the way we would want? Does it mean that life will be easier with more security, a perfect family life. Is trust in God the currency we need to obtain "happiness"?
According to Jesus, yes. "Trusting in God", i.e., being rooted in a loving reality that is so much greater than my individual life or existential situation is a key to "blessedness", happiness (even studies show better mental health). The "beatitudes" or BE Attitudes remind us that life is not about wealth, possessions or even "feeling good". All of that can change in a moment. In a stock crash, in a natural disaster, in a diagnosis of a serious illness, it's possible to lose everything. If we trust in everything being as it's always been. If we hold on to what we have at any cost, than when the inevitable comes, what will we have? Blessed are you who are poor, yours is the kingdom of heaven. What does Jesus mean by this? IT is not an idealization of poverty but it is an invitation to realize that everything we have and are is of God and from God. And God is the one who should be the ground of our being, the stream to which our roots stretch, the life source who sustains us no matter what.
"No storm can shake my inmost calm, when to my rock I'm clinging. Since God is lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing"?
Who knows whether public policy will change and "In God we trust" will no longer be part of our "currency"? Does it make any difference, if our trust in God is the real currency of our lives?