2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a, 14-17
Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Don’t judge a book by its cover.
All that glitters is not gold.
These familiar idioms reflect our experiences of being led astray. We hear news reports of scams all the time. Not all of them rise to the level of Bernie Madoff, the admitted operator of a Ponzi scheme that is considered to be the largest financial fraud in U.S. history totaling $18 billion. But we each have an experience of "being taken."
I want to trust others. I really want to trust those who serve as leaders in government and the church. And when those entrusted with our physical, financial and spiritual welfare, or the welfare of those we most love and care for, choose to disregard their obligation, they chisel away at my ability to trust anyone.
The scripture readings for today from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians and the Gospel of St. Matthew should reassure us in some strange ways. Deceit, poor leadership, and hypocrisy apparently abounded in the time of Jesus and the early church. As we might imagine and quite understand, many probably became disillusioned and went in search of something or someone more trustworthy. It is not an experience far from our own time as we deal with our own crisis of trust in government and church.
But our faith is in Jesus Christ. He is the rock. He is the truth and the way. He is the light. Frail human beings and institutions, no matter how good, can only approximate the truth that is Jesus Christ. And no matter how many times we feel we have been duped or taken advantage of, Jesus remains our rock. He will be faithful to us to the end of time. It is to him that we go when others have let us down, or when we have let ourselves down.
No doubt we can become discouraged when our trust is betrayed, and that is deeply sad even if understandable. Jesus simply invites us never to lose hope and trust in him.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.