Trust: the Basis of all Relationships
Trust is the ultimate and perfect expression of belief. When belief in something becomes substantial, that belief empowers a person to trust in that something. I believe that my automobile will start when I insert the key in the ignition, and after consistently experiencing this reality on an ongoing basis, I begin to place my trust in that vehicle—becoming dependent upon it. If, however, my car starts one day, but maybe not the next, or in the afternoon one day, but not on another morning, I would learn to mistrust my car, and eventually junk it and purchase a more dependable automobile. Relationships are a lot like cars, they work when the persons involved are consistently dependable and trustable. Trust is the basis of every authentic relationship. The more that one can be trusted, the more perfect the love between the person who trusts and the one who is trusted. As St. Francis de Sales said, “Perfect love implies absolute trust in the person loved.”
Being entrusted with God’s children
Though the matter of raising a child to holiness may appear to be a small matter, it should be viewed by us as a great responsibly. Often fathers testify, by means of their actions, that they believe their fatherhood to be a small— a little talent— which should be buried in comparison to their occupation, personal projects or desired endeavors. However, God entrusts us with the task of raising our children to holiness, joy, peace and fulfillment. The Father believes in us and trusts us with this task of rasing His children, and therefore we ought to trust and believe that He will assist us in this endeavor. Our heavenly Father has given us each the talent of the child. Every father will be judged according to how he invested in the talent of his child, and according to whether he returned the talent of the child to God. All of this demonstrates that God loves us, for He trusts us with those whom He loves.
Entrusting our Children to God
St. Joseph, understanding that Jesus, his new Son, was not of his own flesh, but belonged to God, “brought him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord,” (Luke 2:33) God’s law demanded that a Jewish father first “present” or “offer” his child to God. Second, the father would offer a sacrifice to God in order to obtain the child in return for the sacrifice. The sacrifice served as the price of “redemption of the child” from the Lord. In other words, Joseph gave Jesus to God, presenting the child as God’s own, and then he gave the sacrifice of two turtle doves to God in exchange for the child. God received Joseph’s sacrifice as a sign that Jesus was fully consecrated to God, and receiving the sign of consecration, God in turn gave the child Jesus back to Joseph as a sign of His trust and love for Joseph. This rite of redemption served as a reminder of the original Passover, when God spared the first born of all who were willing to consecrate themselves to God by the act of sacrificing the lamb. This implies that our children will be saved by God if they are given by us in sacrifice to God. The heavenly Father allowed the earthly father, Joseph, to redeem the Redeemer, entrusting Joseph to prepare His Son to become THE sacrificial lamb.
An exchange of Trust
The redemption of Christ by his father Joseph serves as a permanent model for fathers who are to consecrate their children to God. By doing this, the human father, like Joseph, offers his child in sacrifice to God, preparing his own child to offer himself eventually in sacrifice. In this mystery—commonly referred to as the Presentation of the Lord—occurred an exchange of trust between God the Father and the father Joseph. Joseph freely gave the Son Whom he had received to God the Father, trusting that God would return the child; and God, returning the child, entrusted Joseph to prepare God’s only begotten Son to be returned as the sacrificial oblation on behalf of all mankind. The Father entrusts each of us with the child that He claims as His own. This reality should cause us to have great confidence in God: God has entrusted us with the noble work of redeeming our children with Christ’s redemption.
When things go Wrong
So how do we do this? How do we offer our children to God, redeeming them with Christ’s redemption? First, we must acknowledge that our children are God’s first, and have been given—on loan—to us for the purpose of investing them with Christ. Second, we must see our fatherhood and our children as no small talent, but rather, the nuclear power that can be God’s means of transforming this broken world. We fathers have been endowed with a nuclear power to change the world—via our children. Third, we must invest ourselves in this talent. Last week, I had the privilege to converse with a young man who served four years in a maximum security prison—six of those months in solitary confinement. He along with every one of his siblings became addicted to drugs, involved in teenage pregnancies, and several of them ended up in prison. He mentioned that his dad went to Mass, religiously every Sunday, and made sure that the entire family not only attended Mass but prayed the Rosary nearly every evening. So why did it go wrong? Why did all of these children lose their faith? This young man mentioned that his dad rarely spoke with his children. He was distant, demanding and appeared personally uninterested in their lives. Because of this, they feared him. Because of this they became bitter. Because of this, they resented religion—resented Jesus.
A Little Interest make Big Dividends
This young man’s father did not visit him during the first year of his sentence. Finally, his father visited him. This young man said that initially the experiences of attempting to converse with his father were strange and extremely uncomfortable. He said, “How do I talk with a man that rarely ever spoke to me?” This young man however, longed for his father’s presence, his father’s words, and the two of them continued their visits every three months, from that point on, until he was released from prison. Today, he and his father converse daily. The result: this young man has a steady, good paying job, has overcome his past addictions and believes that he is worthy of love. When a human father trusts in the heavenly Father —Who trusts him to father—he enables his children to trust, not only in his fatherhood, but also in the heavenly Father. It is never too late to change the course of our fatherhood and become a father who is dependable and trustworthy.
A little Water can Become Good Wine
Often, we fathers are afraid of failing, of saying the wrong words, of doing something that we will regret—something that will have an ill effect on our children. The worst thing to do, however, is to do nothing. God does not work with our neglect, but He can and will work with our mistakes, efforts and trials. At the wedding of Cana, Christ commanded the servants to fill the jars with water—when the guests needed wine. Only after the servants obediently trusted, and filled the jars with water, did Jesus transform their work, the water, into wine—a symbol of grace. Jesus will not transform our neglect into wine—into grace. He desires for us to gather water, that is, converse with our children, bless our children, look into their eyeballs and enter into their lives. And even if we don’t do it perfectly, God can transform that imperfect work into perfection. That’s His job—not ours—all we have to do is gather the water. It is never too late to invest in your fatherhood—in your children. The world depends upon it.