Tomorrow Will Take Care Of Itself
There are several directions that one could go with today’s Gospel reading. For example, we could talk about the environment, which the Gospel sort of hints at from the perspective of Divine Providence. “God takes care of nature, and God will take care of us.” Or we could talk about trust in God, which is actually the main quote on our dollar bills; “In God We Trust!” I’m surprised the atheists haven’t complained about that one yet.
At what point in our lives, though, do we begin to teach our children about Divine Providence, or trust in God, since they are still completely dependent on their parents until they leave home. Of course, some of our senior citizens say that now it has been extended until they are married! And then there are the grandchildren. We teach our children to trust in God, but as parents, we are still providing for them; sort of a Parental Providence. At what point in our own lives did we let go and depend on God?
Speaking for myself, coming from a family of ten other siblings, I couldn’t wait to leave home, but I learned very early that it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. In fact, when I was five or six years old, I was fed up. I told my Dad that I was running away. I was surprised I told him, but more surprised how willing he was to let me go. So I packed my suitcase and was heading out the door. Then my Dad called to me as I was leaving, “Where are you going to stay?” Quite smugly I said, “Uncle Richard’s house.” He was my Dad’s brother and close to our family. Their family would come over on the weekends a lot, and while our parents played cards, we kids were free to practically burn down the neighborhood.
“He has a big family to take care of himself,” my Dad reminded me. “Do you think he really wants another mouth to feed? Besides, that’s our suitcase you are leaving with. And the clothes you are wearing, I bought them for you, and you know you will hand them on to your brothers next year. You need to leave what isn’t yours, here. I provided for all those things.”
Since when did economics start entering into Divine and Parental Providence Providence? I thought we were supposed to trust in God completely? I really didn’t want to walk naked to my uncle’s house. Not only would that be hard to explain, but I realized then and there I’m no Saint Francis. I guess I would have to wait another ten or twelve years. But next time I would be ready. That was when I entered the navy and sort of depended on Military Providence.
So what about Divine Providence? Does God really take care of nature, let alone the environment? What about Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring”? What about now…Global Warming? It seems like we are getting into politics, but we are not. We are really talking about our home, the planet earth. God created the world, and God pronounced it GOOD! But God can only do so much when creation is interfered with by others, like us. Part of God’s plan, even Divine Providence, includes our cooperation. And even nature can heal itself if left alone. Look at the Mistake on the Lake, Cleveland, when the Cuyahoga River caught fire! What was once an environmental disaster is now a success story; almost too good a success story.
As our faith matures, our trust in God continues to a point where we are asked to let go of everything. We are asked to let go of Parental Providence, even Military Providence, any providence except for Divine! One day we will have to let go of everything anyway, including our life! In Ronald Rolheiser’s book, “Sacred Fire”, he gives an example of an elderly couple who were going to do just that, in a very radical way, let go of everything. I will let them tell you.
“We have been praying over this for a long time and we feel called in a way like Abraham and Sarah. We feel that God is calling us into the big, big unknown as he did them. What we want to do is to sell our house and, after buying two one-way airline tickets, give the rest of money to the food bank. The one-way tickets we would buy would be for Pakistan. We feel that God is calling us to spend the rest of our lives as missionaries to Islam in Pakistan. We picked Pakistan because there is so much tension today between Christians and Muslims, and there is a need for more understanding between us. Our plan is to go there with no money and to live simply with the poor there, and to die there. We presented this plan to our children, and they were beyond belief, stunned and horrified. They think we are insane and demanded that, among other things, we talk to you, Father. So what do you think of this idea?” Actually, I met several American Lay Missionary couples living in Africa of the Protestant persuasion.
Let the story sink in. Pray over it. What would you do? Have you thought about such an action for yourself and your spouse? I would put this trust in Divine Providence at 10 on a scale from one to ten, with ‘one’ being the lowest and ‘ten’ the highest in Trust in God! When I went to Africa, I was still nowhere near ten, but it was still a radical change in my life, even though I was nicely cushioned by Marianist or Church Providence. The key here is that the above couple felt very strongly called, and the second thing is that they were sane enough to talk it over with someone else who was sane. In case you were thinking of buying your tickets next week, even Saint Ignatius strongly recommends a period of waiting. The more important the matter or decision the longer the wait! I think his best advice was to Work as though everything depended on you, and Pray as though everything depended on God!
As we celebrate our Eucharist today, we are reminded that there are many ways here to serve without buying a ticket halfway around the world. To trust in Divine Providence also means that if God wants us to relocate, God will certainly arrange the ticket/s.