For You, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
The call of God for our lives remains the same but has different stages throughout our lives. The call of God is for us to enter into His Kingdom. We prepare for this by following two simple commandments—to love God and to love our neighbor. How we follow these commandments changes throughout our lives. For instance, when we are babies, our understanding of God is very simple: “God is good. God loves me.” I remember when our son Nicholas was a baby, he called Sunday “church day” and he knew church was a special place. He didn’t know what it meant to worship, or sacrifice, or obey, or even how to pray, just that God is good and church is special. Today he loves to worship and he prays daily and has a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and why/how we worship, which wouldn’t be there had we not lain the simplest of foundations for him. This is not to brag or boast, just to say that at the baby stage, the call is very simple—just have a basic understanding. A deeper understanding is expected as we get older.
Up until we are done with our formal education, it seems that the focus of life is very self-centered. It is about learning and preparation. Hopefully, somewhere in there is also a sense of service to others. As I reflect on this period of education, because it lasts so long and the focus is inward on “get me an education,” once it is over, the focus also can remain inward, “get me an income, a house, etc.” That’s why in the education stage there has to be elements of service, because the call to serve our neighbor is a call at all ages and stages of life. There is lots of trust at all stages, including this one. As we take leaps of faith in where we will go to college, or if we will go, and what we will study, there is hopefully discernment of what our talents are so we develop them appropriately, but with the acknowledgement that these talents come from God and that they should be used to serve others while glorifying Him.
Trust in God is also on display when it comes to starting a job, which might involve relocating to a different city; or when it comes to getting married, or having children. To trust like Mary (we aren’t talking about just trusting, but trusting LIKE Mary), means that we continue to trust in God even as the scenes of life change. Mary trusted in a certain way as she made her way sitting on a donkey to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus. She trusted in a different circumstance when she saw Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. At the Nativity, she was mother to a dependent baby. On Palm Sunday, she was supporter of a Man who was carrying out His mission to save the world.
For parents, the call when they are babies might mean changing a diaper, or comforting a sick child. And when they are adults, it might be giving advice, or just listening. As parents we are called at all times to minister to our children, we just do it in different ways at different stages.
As a husband, father and priest, on a given day, I might be called to the bedside of someone who is dying, and then be called by my son to help with homework, or by my wife to go to the store and buy traps to keep ants out of the kitchen (as happened just yesterday!). The call to serve and to trust can vary by the hour on some days. As we conclude this theme of “trust like Mary,” we are reminded that the call of God is not always something “otherworldly” like Moses encountering the burning bush and it changing the course of his life and the lives of others, though sometimes the call is like that. Most often the call of God is more simple and subtle, like the opportunity to hold a door open for someone, or offer a word of encouragement to someone who is down. To trust like Mary means to trust not only on the “big ticket” items but the small mundane ones as well.
The call to serve God is the same throughout life—we are called to serve and trust. How we serve varies from year to year, stage to stage, sometimes hour to hour. Overshadowing this call is the hope we have in the overall call of God, the call to eternal life. The hope remains the same, whether the activity is giving a sermon or taking out the trash, whether we serve in large ways or small ones. Mary stood at the foot of the cross in a way that publicly and dramatically supported her Son. She also supported Him in the more mundane ways of cooking Him meals and giving Him baths when He was a child. We are called to serve and to trust in all times and in all circumstances. Faith and hope are the ability to trust in both the extraordinary and mundane times, in the moments of certainty and the moments of confusion, in the moments of doubt and in the moments of confidence.
O Virgin Theotokos who gave birth to the Savior, you reversed the curse to which Eve once was subject. For you have become the Mother of the Father’s good pleasure, and you hold in your embraces God the Logos incarnate. The mystery admits no inquiry; we all glorify it by faith alone, and with you we cry aloud and say, “O Lord incomprehensible, glory to You.” (Praises, Orthros of the Nativity, Trans. By Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Personal Reflection Point: How do you think that hope and trust are different? How are they the same?