Trust in One Another
first reading for today, from Jeremiah, opens with the line, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings…”. Trusting in human beings is contrasted with trusting in the Lord. While certainly trusting in the Lord is a good thing, I can’t help but believe we must also have some trust in our human fellows. Perhaps the reading is stating that the problem is trusting exclusively in fellow humans, to the exclusion of the Lord, and that will lead to the laments described there, and I certainly agree that too much uncritical reliance on our fellows may lead to disaster. Yet, to me, the New Testament message is one of love for all God’s creation, and particularly our fellow humans, as imperfect as we are. That our imperfect selves have the hope of redemption seems the whole reason for this season of Lent, where we reflect and do necessary penance for our failures and imperfections, so that we are ready for the Easter message of salvation. Maybe I’d change Jeremiah’s lament to something more like “Trust in the Lord to help us become trustworthy humans.”
Of course, we all have to trust our fellow humans every day of our lives. We trust that other drivers will correctly follow the rules of the road so we all arrive safely at our destinations (yes, I know that there are doubters on this, as I drive 635 daily). And certainly this may often lead to prayer, so as Jeremiah states, we must also trust in the Lord. There have been some particular times in my life when I have needed to trust my fellow humans in some very tricky situations, where I had to trust that some others had carefully fulfilled their duties precisely, and this could mean life or death. In these I think I can also remember something along the lines of, “I hope God is keeping an eye on us, or on those guys firing the guns.” So maybe we were trusting in both our fellow humans and, as Jeremiah states, putting our trust in the Lord as well.
But in the parable that is the second reading, Jesus seems to use the situation between Lazarus and the rich man to imply we will be rewarded as we deserve when judgement comes. That always leaves me a bit frightened. I guess I always hope I will get better than I deserve, for what I may truly deserve may be more the plight of the rich man than Lazarus. Guess that’s why we pray, “Lord have mercy.”
Author: Fred Donahue*
*Fred Donahue previously served both our Social Studies Department and Administration and continues to serve Jesuit Dallas in the classroom as a substitute teacher.