RELIGION: Without trust there is no road to peace

By Canon Gerry Conroy

In life there is always a need for trust and that is no less true of faith. Without trust all we have is fear and doubt. The need for trust comes out in the Gospel reading where Christ says, ‘If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him’.

It seems that our response to hearing the word of God is that we first take his word to heart, which means that we love as he loved us. Trust comes in here because, we may not understand why we must love as he loves us, but we trust him enough to do so. Our action is based on our trust of his word that this is the thing to do, the way to live our life. It is a bit like a child who doesn’t understand why its parents tell it do something it may not particularly like doing, but it trusts them and obeys.

We might think we are adults we know everything and what is best, but that isn’t quite true; we can all make bad choices at times which shows we don’t always understand life. The first reading seems to imply that when it comes to faith, things aren’t always straightforward either.

The result of trusting Jesus and doing what he says, even if we do not understand the why’s and wherefores of it all, is that the Father will love us. What is important is the obedience we show to his word. This trusting Christ enough to act on his word without the certainty our fears and uncertainties crave is both the difficult part and the crucial part in faith.

We want to have certainty before we do anything, we want to feel in control of our own life, but to feel in control we need to know not only what we can expect in the decisions we make, we also want to know and decide each individual step we must take to get to get to where we want to go; this is what we understand being in charge of our life means: that we make the choices. We want a freedom to decide everything about our life – even if it might mean we never find the happiness that we are looking for.

Freedom seems to so dominate our horizon that we see it as intimately linked to our happiness, even when our freedom leads us down destructive alleys and into blind backwaters. In living our faith, we confront a fundamental human problem: we need to find a solution – a lived solution – to the problem of the relationship between love and law, between freedom and structure.

Love uncovers the heart of the law and in the meantime the Law guides us from our wildness to come to know what love is. The paradox and therefore the difficulty for us is that freedom is given its freedom by structure since, without it, freedom can run wild and destroys both the freedom we began with and the happiness we were looking for. The difficulty is in accepting we need limits to our freedom, we need structures to be truly free.

Love is only fruitful when it is directed to something specific when it is set free from a promiscuity that wastes itself on everything. Laws and the commandments seek to provide that direction for love.

When our love bears fruit, then God will make his home with us – the union with God which is the end of salvation will be ours. This is how we come to the peace he promised us. But without trust, we will never even begin on the road to peace.

Canon Conroy is parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton

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