I recently finished reading an incredible book. It was called "Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary." It was an account of daily life in this Jewish Lithuanian Ghetto written by Avraham Tory. From June 1941 until January 1944, Mr. Tory, the official secretary of the Jewish ghetto council, was determined to record every aspect of life, every interaction with the Nazis persecutors in order to someday bring to justice those men and women who committed such atrocious crimes. Mr. Tory did this knowing that if he was ever found out, if any of his documents leaked out to the Nazis, he would be immediately executed and everything he worked for would be destroyed. Yet almost despite himself, Mr. Tory could not help but write. Not only of the injustice he and his fellow Jews experienced at the hands of their captures, but also to give a witness to the amazing strength, bravery and, at times, cunning, of the Ghetto inhabitants. Having finished the book, I wondered if I would have had such courage!
As I read the gospel today I read about Jesus and his determination to follow the course God laid out for him no matter the consequences, no matter the cost. He was warned by the Pharisees to flee, to run away, to escape. But Jesus knows that it is only in Jerusalem that he can meet his destiny and fulfill his mission. He makes clear that his attitude toward Jerusalem is that of his Father. He loved Jerusalem even though Jerusalem would, in a matter of months, be the place of his execution.
It is often easier to talk about trusting in God than it actually is "trusting" God. Paul’s words resonate over and over again and again, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" "…neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor principalities…nor heights, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Jesus was the living embodiment of "trusting" in the Father even in the face of certain death. He went forward because it was his destiny, his calling, his mission to fulfill.
We may not in our daily lives find ourselves confronting, like Jesus, such overwhelming dramatic issues like that of our life’s destiny and the sort of mission we will fulfill. But how do we act in the small challenges that life asks us to embrace? Do we "talk the talk" but not "walk the walk?" Or do we "will" ourselves to trust in God, in what is right and just, and do what we know we are called to do? If our model of faith is Jesus, who confronted death and was victorious, can we expect to do any less?
Patrick Quinn ([email protected]) is the director of Planned Giving at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.