Trusting in Jesus when Problems Occur

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

I guess that if we were to write down all the things we are worried, anxious or concerned about our list would go from the sanctuary here right back to the main door of the church and maybe even well out into the street. Just think of all the things we are worried about: parents worried about their children, people worried about their health or that of others, farmers worrying about the weather or their livestock, financial worries, worries about relationships, worries about so many different things.

Earlier this year I told of one woman’s fears during pregnancy shared in the Trinidad Catholic News which I read on the Internet.

"I think of pregnancy. What a time! Uncertainty, doubt, fears, apprehensions! We don’t know what’s in store for us. Will we bear a healthy child, withstand the pain? Will there be complications? We have no guarantees. Do we have it in us to take care of the infant, to protect, assure, comfort in times of doubt. The anxiety is real. Nothing in life has prepared us for this. Then God sends Jesus to us, perhaps in a mother, as happened to me in my first pregnancy. Her faith was comforting, born out of her experience of life and of God. Like Jesus, she had walked the road and returned to take me through it. She had confidence in me, the way Jesus had in his disciples. She knew that I had it within me to cope with whatever situation I met. She prepared a place for me, cooked, washed, and cared generally."

Like the disciples in the boat in today’s Gospel (Matt 14:22-23), that woman felt fear during pregnancy, and like the disciples in the boat Jesus came to her when her mother helped her. From time to time we all feel frightened like the disciples in the boat and like them we cry out in fear. But just as in today’s Gospel, Jesus comes to us in some way, usually through the help of those near to us and says, "Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid." How often I have heard it said, "If it wasn’t for the help of so-and-so, I would never have made it through that time." Therefore when we are worried let us turn to Jesus and continue to trust in him.

Was Jesus ever afraid? Did Jesus ever worry? Yes he did. And what did he do when he had worries and how did he cope? On two occasions in the Gospel we see Jesus afraid. On each of the two occasions he prayed to his Father and in prayer he got the strength to continue and face the difficult situation. In Gethsemane, the night before his crucifixion, he prayed to his Father to let the cup, i.e. his passion, pass him by. Jesus’ prayer was answered because he got the strength to face his passion, "Not my will, but yours be done." On another occasion, also thinking of his passion, Jesus said, "Now my soul is troubled." (John 12:27) Imagine Jesus saying "Now my soul is troubled." It is perhaps a bit of a shock but on this occasion also Jesus prayed to his Father and recovered his strength during prayer. When troubles and worries come our way, our best approach is the approach of Jesus. PRAY, and we will get the strength to continue and, hopefully, like what happened to the pregnant woman in Trinidad, Jesus may send help to us through some kind person.  Whatever happens continue to trust in Jesus.

When troubles come our way often we forget that God is still with us. It is strange really, but that is what happens to so many people when they get upset. They think God has gone on holidays. But that is not so. God is still with us. We cannot always rely on our feelings, and we can rely on them still less when there is something bothering us. The truth is that God is with us always, whether or not we feel his presence. Don’t ever forget that Jesus and Mary are always with you no matter what your feelings tell you. God and Mary will not abandon you. Remember when Jesus was worried he prayed and received strength in prayer to face his passion. Let’s finish with a reflection to assure us that Jesus is still with us even when we don’t feel his presence.

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it. "LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied, "My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

(Footprints in the Sand is by Mary Stevenson © 1984 and used here with permission. The official website address is http://www.footprints-inthe-sand.com In my page of links there is a link to the Trinidad Catholic News.)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Nineteenth Sunday Year A

Amazing Grace that saved a Wretch like Me!

Growing through Trials like Peter

stories about faith