Friday reflection: Step out & trust

I gave this reflection on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020 during Evening Prayer at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston. The Scripture passage is Luke 11:1-23. The text for the talk is below the video and audio clips.

Br. Jonas’ video of reflection: “Step Out and Trust”
Br. Jonas’ reflection: “Step Out and Trust”

Will I step out and trust?

When I was young, I was at the edge of a diving board.  I was SO scared to jump.  A flood of questions rushed through my mind.  Can I do this?  Will I hurt myself?  Will I die?  Will anyone save me?  I felt so alone up there.  It was no longer a diving board.  It was more like a cliff.

Will I step out and trust?

We have that same fear when we start a relationship with God.  We face this Transcendent Other, whom we hardly know.  Many questions can flood our minds.  Will I be hurt?  Will he listen?  Does he care about me?  Will I be gobbled up by this God?  Does not the Bible say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hb 10:31)? It feels so lonely before God. 

Will I step out and trust?

Our fear touches our vulnerability.  Will I be loved for who I am?  Most of the time we protect ourselves with a mask or many.  I need this person’s approval.  I will wear this mask.  I want to belong to this group.  I will wear this other mask.  Especially with social media, we can put on a good show that we are OK.  See.  I’m fine.  Nothing is wrong with me.  But we are not OK.

We want to be loved for who we are.  We desire authenticity.  But we need to drop our comfortable, predictable masks.  That’s scary.  Buddhism and Eastern spiritual practices like yoga appeal to many people because they teach them to shed their false selves.  Relax and release this worry and drop that mask.  But these practices make one mistake.  They all assume that after we remove layer after layer of our false selves, we disappear into the divine.  No self to worry about. 

Will I step out and trust this path to nothingness?  No, I will not.

The truth is this.  Under all our masks, we have our true self: we’re images of God, chosen and loved first.  But God wants us to drop the mask.

How do I drop this mask?  It begins with prayer.  This passage from Luke highlights the need to ask God for help.  When we ask God for something, we realize that we can’t do it on our own.  We don’t have it all together.  We need help.  We drop our mask.  Asking for help begins a relationship, a connection.  This God is not a faceless divine Other.  Jesus teaches us to call God Abba or Father, a father who loves us and desires to help us.  

When we encounter God the Father, we must remember we are not alone.  God has given us friends (fellow Christians and saints) for the journey.  During my meditation this morning, I imagine the Virgin Mary, standing with me at the edge of the cliff by the ocean.  She takes my hand, and she says, “Let’s jump together.” 

Will I step out and trust her?

Yes, yes, I will.

Mary and I leap together into that ocean of God.  We hit the water.  It isn’t a black abyss.  Rather, we leap into the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  In that heart, we are immersed in love, supported in love and affirmed in love.  In that love, my mask and false self melt away.  We are left in our true, fundamental identity: a beloved son and daughter of God.

Step out and trust.  God the Father will always catch you with his merciful love.

Step out and trust.

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