Who are We Going to Trust?


Thursday March 20, 2003 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Second Week of Lent

Reading (Jeremiah 17:5-10)   Gospel (St. Luke 16:19-31)


In the first reading today, we hear one of the most unfortunate statements in all of Scripture – unfortunate in the fact that it is absolutely true, but something that none of us like to hear – More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? The Lord is pointing to the fact that what happens is we do not trust. What happens with most of us is we get caught up in ourselves and we do not trust God. In fact, I think if we are honest with ourselves, we would probably admit that we trust human beings far more than we trust God. Now none of us really wants to admit to that, but the reality, if we look rather deeply at it, I think is there. We can see human beings; we can listen to them; we can touch them; they are flesh and blood; they are right in front of us or we can get them on the other end of a telephone or with a letter or whatever it might be. But with God, we cannot see Him, we cannot hear Him, we cannot touch Him, and so it requires far more to be able to put our trust fully in God. It is a lot easier to trust in other people.


Of course, the one that it is most easy to trust – and the one who should be least trusted – is the self! We put all kinds of trust in ourselves even though, if we look historically at our own lives, we will have to admit there are probably thousands of times that we have failed. Not only have we failed in our word to other people and what they were trusting in us to do, but I suspect we have all probably failed ourselves plenty of times, as well as failing the Lord. And so it really makes one wonder what is wrong with us that we would put such trust in ourselves and such trust in other people, but yet we do not really put the trust in the Lord. It is not so much a matter that we are even really trying to trust; the problem is that most of us are so caught up in our own selves that trusting God does not even enter into our minds because we never look beyond ourselves, or very rarely anyway.


Look, for instance, at the Gospel reading, and you see Dives, the rich man, dining sumptuously while there is a beggar sitting at his gate, not all that unlike many of us because Dives probably never thought twice about it. It was his money, after all, and he can do with it what he wants; he was caught up in himself. As long as he had what he wanted, that was all that really mattered. And, after all, it was a matter of justice: “If I made the money, I can spend it on myself if I want to.” And so from the torments of hell, he cries out for help – and there is none. Then he begs that Lazarus would at least go and warn his brothers. And the Lord says in a totally prophetic manner, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead.”


Well, we have Someone Who has risen from the dead, and most people do not believe Him either. We are held to an even greater responsibility than Dives and those of his time because we not only have what Moses and the prophets have written, we have God made man, Who suffered and died and rose from the dead for us. Still, we refuse to listen. Still, we refuse to trust. We trust ourselves far more than we trust Him, which is really sad because we have no reason to trust in ourselves and every reason to trust in Him. But the reality is we do not and that is something we need to look at. We need to pray about that because that trust is absolutely essential for where we are headed. Now that things have begun, it is time that we look at where we trust. Do we trust in airplanes and bombs and TV sets and whatever else? Or do we trust in God? More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can endure it?


*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.