Surrendering to God

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

“I have never seen anything like this.” This statement struck me as especially strong, since it came from a man in his 80s who had lived through the national struggle that gripped our country during the Second World War. In his mind, the national lockdown we are now experiencing is worse.

All of us are grappling with the situation that seems to worsen hourly as we face many and varied sets of fears. Will I get the virus? Will someone I love succumb and not be able to recover? What happens if I can’t go on with daily life for 30 days or more? I can’t even go to Mass! What will happen to my savings? My retirement account? My job?

Bishop Andrew CozzensFor the poor, the fears are even more threatening. Will I be able to find food for my children? Will I lose my place to live? What does this mean for my life, my future? As the world gradually shuts down in an attempt to stop the spread of this virus to save those who may be vulnerable, most of us experience a profound sense of powerlessness as our daily life is no longer in our control. When everything is out of control, it is important to focus on what we know is really true.

Perhaps, there is a blessing that can come from all this pain.

In normal times, we live our daily lives pursuing various ends. We live often in a kind of bubble pretending that we can control reality. The concerns that occupy our daily lives as we seek wealth, pleasure, power or honor often seduce us into a false sense of what is important and what will bring us security. When we enter into a crisis like the one we are facing now, we recognize that the reality we have constructed is really a false veneer. We are not in control. The events of the world, life and death, are beyond us. The bursting of this bubble can cause us great fear, or it can pull us into a deeper reality, a deeper place of security.

In fact, what we see in the saints is a security that astounds us because it is able to be peaceful and joyful in the face of great trials and even death. St. Paul expressed his security this way: “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom 8:14).

St. Paul knew to whom he belonged, and who held the keys of life and death. He did not seek death, but he did not fear it, because he knew that in everything he belonged to the one who conquered death. The Church expresses this reality in her teaching by pointing out that as Christians we are pilgrims on a journey. A pleasant earthly life is not our goal; rather it is given to us to prepare for eternal life with God. This is the real end for which we were created. This deeply felt truth — that I am destined for eternal life with God forever — allows someone to live the adventure of earthly life in freedom and makes us willing to make sacrifices. It allows one to see the reality of this life with new eyes.

How do I learn to see the pain and fear of the present situation through these eyes of faith? Losing control of my life and living in insecurity normally leads to fear and can even lead to despair, but it doesn’t have to. Through prayer and the support of others, I can learn to see the present situation the way God sees it. I can come to see that God is with me in every situation and that in every situation he is working for good, even through the evil of a worldwide pandemic. To do this, I must learn to see my life in the light of Jesus Christ and his redemption. I must come to see that he is capable of bringing good even out of evil. I must come to see that I am not alone.

This brings us to one of the central truths of our faith. The truth that God is capable of bringing good out of evil. St. Paul expresses it this way: “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). This is a radical belief! But the love we show for each other, the peace that comes in prayer, the miracles that God works when we trust in him, all make this belief true. It is the truth that we behold on the cross. The cross was a great evil. When God the Father sent his Beloved Son to the world, we human beings rejected him and hung him up to die on a cross. But God took that evil thing and made it the source of good.

This is the heart of our faith: that through the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, there is nothing so evil that it cannot be taken up by God and turned into a good. If we can surrender our lives to God in this present moment, if we can find ways to support each other through concrete acts of charity, we can discover that we are never alone. Then the fear and insecurity of the present moment can give way to a deeper truth: that God is with us. That he is loving us. That he is the one who is in control of the world. That he is always seeking us and wants to show us his love, and if we discover his love it is possible that even death becomes a step closer to him. We discover that in life and death we belong to God.

These are stark truths for trying times. But I believe that God is inviting the world to reorientate our lives based on reality. The truth is that God is the one who actually holds all things in his hands, and he has a plan for our life, death and eternity. When we allow our bubble to be burst, when we turn from our self-seeking ways of wealth, pleasure, power and honor and begin to seek him, then we can experience even in uncertain times that we are not alone and that the one who created us is drawing us to himself and using all things for good.

Entregarse a Dios

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Category: Only Jesus