Why Don't I Trust God?

March 18, 2021   Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent (Lectionary: 247)

Reading I   Ex 32:7-14
The LORD said to Moses,
“Go down at once to your people
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
‘This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’
The LORD said to Moses,
“I see how stiff-necked this people is.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation.”

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
“Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Why should the Egyptians say,
‘With evil intent he brought them out,
that he might kill them in the mountains
and exterminate them from the face of the earth’?
Let your blazing wrath die down;
relent in punishing your people.
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.’“
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Responsorial Psalm   106:19-20, 21-22, 23
R. (4a) Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb
and adored a molten image;
They exchanged their glory
for the image of a grass-eating bullock.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
They forgot the God who had saved them,
who had done great deeds in Egypt,
Wondrous deeds in the land of Ham,
terrible things at the Red Sea.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.
Then he spoke of exterminating them,
but Moses, his chosen one,
Withstood him in the breach
to turn back his destructive wrath.
R. Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.

Verse before the Gospel   Jn 3:16
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Gospel   Jn 5:31-47
Jesus said to the Jews:
“If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true.
But there is another who testifies on my behalf,
and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true.
You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth.
I do not accept human testimony,
but I say this so that you may be saved.
He was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.
But I have testimony greater than John’s.
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.
Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf.
But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
and you do not have his word remaining in you,
because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures,
because you think you have eternal life through them;
even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.

“I do not accept human praise;
moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you.
I came in the name of my Father,
but you do not accept me;
yet if another comes in his own name,
you will accept him.
How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another
and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?
Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father:
the one who will accuse you is Moses,
in whom you have placed your hope.
For if you had believed Moses,
you would have believed me,
because he wrote about me.
But if you do not believe his writings,
how will you believe my words?”

By Mary Susan Delagrange

I am sometimes surprised at my own snobbery upon reading scripture, though I suppose I shouldn’t be, given my track record. Somehow it’s easy for me to read stories like today’s from Exodus through a lens of superiority. When I see the Israelites worshipping a statue of a cow, it seems so stupid. I mean, I grew up around cows. They’re not what I’d call worship material. Oh, how easily I roll my eyes at the Israelites.

And yet I’m forced to consider: Where am I searching for holiness, peace, satisfaction?

I’m certainly not melting down metal to worship statues of livestock. But the “like” notification on Instagram sure gets a lot of my attention. How much more absurd is a metal cow than a digital heart icon, I wonder?

I spend an awful lot of time seeking approval, looking for satisfaction from the world; I’m often hyper focused on my body, how my children stack up against their peers, how successful I appear.

Obviously I’m gut checked.

And it goes deeper than that. I examine my heart and see that so much of my time is spent harboring malice and resentment toward those I disagree with, judging others’ choices and lifestyles. I am very clearly sitting at the same lunch table with the Israelites and the Pharisees. We’ve probably made friendship bracelets at this point.

Why do I not trust Jesus to be who He says He is? Why do I not trust God to satisfy me?

In truth, I’m frightened of being completely vulnerable and completely known. It’s scary to abandon myself to His love, to give up control, and step out in faith. So I cling to my idols convincing myself that I’m holy.

I even manage to turn good things into idols. I hang my hat on how much scripture I read or how many rosaries I pray, still centering on things I’m controlling, not what I’m receiving from the Lord. “You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Lent is the perfect time to abandon myself to Christ, to lay aside the things I think sustain me and gaze upon the face of the One who really does hold my life in His hands.

In examining all this, I see how deeply I need Jesus, how desperately I need to reorient my affections toward Him.

And the beautiful truth is that He’s there. Christ is waiting, patiently and lovingly, ready to embrace me despite my silliness and my sin.

The same is true for us all.

He desperately loves us and yearns for us to return to him. In her wisdom the church serves us plenty of gut checks through Lent. This tough love is a call to come home, to return to the place where we are seen and loved, not for what we’ve achieved, our social media numbers, or how many prayers we’ve ticked off, but simply because we are the beloved of the Father, made from love, in love, to love.

So, I’ll seek healing in the sacraments, I’ll go to Him in the confessional and offer up the idols I’ve created. It’s in emptying myself that I am able to be filled with His grace and ultimately find satisfaction that surpasses the quick fixes I’m so addicted to.


Mary Susan Delagrange is a birth doula and homeschooling mom of four, happily married to her chef husband. A native Texan living in Ohio, she spends her days dreaming of real Mexican food, journaling, drinking too much coffee, and escaping to run in the woods whenever she gets the chance. You can find out more about her here

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