When I was a 13-year-old teenager in Catholic high school we were taken on a day retreat to a place called Mount Olivers. It’s a convent on the outskirts of my town. The priest was a country lad, and he had big ears that stuck out which made him look like a football cup. With great callousness, we’d make fun of his appearance and that funny limp he had. He was also flat-footed too. Teenagers who couldn’t give a monkeys about religion can be very cruel and unforgiving, you know?
We all sit in a circle and are handed pieces of paper. On this paper, we were instructed to write a list of all the people in our world that we trust. We all handed back our bits of paper. The priest began reading them, “Barry, you trust your mother, father, doctor etc yeah, good lad, I like that.” There’s no point in boring you with reading the rest as everyone put down near enough the same thing.
Then he came to mine and saw that it had been blank. “Stephen, you trust . . . ” Opening it and realizing it’s blank he asked why. “I replied, “I trust nobody”. I could see he was quite visibly shaken that a 13-year-old would say something like this. I gave them a little sermon on why.
There is no such thing as trust. No man can ever be fully trusted because that’s the nature of who we are. Many of us paint pictures of people that are not real. When the person doesn’t live up to the painting we developed of them we point the finger and complain they broke our trust. I suppose you could say that trust is a word to describe a level of hope we may place in someone but that is all. As for actual real undiluted and pure trust, nobody can give that to men at all.
One of the students raise their voice, “Surely you trust your doctor?” Another voice echoed from the circle, “Like, if he puts a needle in your arm, you’d trust him, right?”
I responded that when the doctor puts the needle in my arm I’m taking a risk but there’s no trust. How can there be when there’s a chance he’ll mess it up? How can I be completely sure his intentions are pure?
I left God out of the conversation that day, not because I didn’t believe in Him, but because it wasn’t cool to talk about Him so openly without looking “uncool” among your peers. However, later in life at my grandiose conversion at the age of 23, I read the imitations of Christ by Thomas A Kempis (15th century mystic) for the first time. In the book, he quoted a psalm that said no man can be trusted only the Lord.
As soon as I’d read it I recalled that little meeting in 1997 where we discussed that very thing. Before this, I’d never read the Bible or saintly books at all. I’d zero interest in it. “That’s for middle to upper-class nice boys, not my thing at all” I would often say when confronted with the opportunity. Not much of that outlook has changed especially with regards to the priesthood. I look at it and just see men from privileged backgrounds in it with the exceptional few.
Looking back at history I realized that the priesthood was no different in the day of Jesus. For the Pharisees had all hoped John would be the messiah as he came from a good middle-class lineage where Jesus literally emerged from a dump. I’m not saying it’s bad practice. For Jesus call all sorts of people to the priesthood, but it’s a practice that has never dissolved and gone away.
I’ve digressed a bit there but let’s return to the nature in which I spoke as a 13-year-old against the collective voice of the many. That’s the way I am. I’ve always spoken out of turn even for all the wrong reasons being disliked by much of the community. Now, since my conversion to the faith, I’m disliked for presumably all the right reasons. Jesus gave me a ticket to become ridiculed not only by the world but the religious as well. I find it very difficult to view it as an achievement but apparently, Jesus retains that view of it.
He is the one I put my trust in and Him alone. When we put our trust in God alone only then can we truly love others and stop illusory painting pictures of them. See others for who they are not what you imagine them to be and loving them becomes easier. That way, when someone does fail you, you’re not going to be upset, because you know that your happiness does not depend on another person or their behaviour but God alone. Even if he be a Holy priest, walking Saint or some hermit who refuses you an audience, remember, your happiness does not depend upon them, only on God alone. On Judgment day the purpose of everyone’s place in this world by the Lord will be revealed.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.Psalm:118:8