Franciscan Spirit Blog

Lent with Pope Francis: Trusting When We Don't Understand

Cross inside a purple heart

A Word from Pope Francis

We see so many dark valleys, so many disasters, so many people dying of hunger, from wars, so many disabled children, so many. The question spontaneously arises: “Where is the Lord? Where are you? Are you walking with me?” This is precisely Susanna’s feeling, and today it is ours as well. There is only one answer to this question. It cannot be explained. I am not capable. Why does a child suffer? I don’t know; it’s a mystery to me. The only thing that gives me some light—not to the mind, to the soul—is Jesus in Gethsemane: “Father, not this cup. But your will be done.”

Jesus entrusts himself to the Father’s will; Jesus knows that all does not end with death or with anguish, and his last words on the Cross: “Father into your hands I entrust myself!” And thus he dies. It is a true act of faith, entrusting myself to God who walks with me, who walks with my people, who walks with the Church.

So perhaps I entrust myself by saying: “I don’t know why this happens, but I entrust myself: You will know why.” This is a grace. We have to ask for it: “Lord, teach me to entrust myself to your hands, to entrust myself to your guidance, even in brutal moments, in dark times, at the moment of death, I entrust myself to you for you never disappoint, you are faithful.”

Taking the Word to Heart

Read: Daniel 13:1–9, 15–17, 19–30, 33–62; John 8:1–11 

The plight of Susanna in today’s first reading is familiar to anyone who has been abused by someone with greater power, more authority, a high reputation in the community. The judges used their position to take advantage of someone with no power, no voice, seemingly no defense.

In a similar way, the woman in our Gospel reading is brought before Jesus by those who are more interested in defending their authority than in treating her as a fellow human being. In each case, someone steps forward to defend the innocent, to raise up the oppressed, to speak for justice and righteousness.

But we know all too well that this doesn’t always happen. Even in the Gospel, those who drifted away at Jesus’s challenge returned to kill him and so reject his law of compassion. And so we come to Pope Francis‘ words. Trusting God when we are suffering, when we are being treated unjustly, when we are abused goes against everything our human instincts tell us is right. We long for a Daniel to swoop in to vanquish the villains and save the day. We want a super hero.

But the Gospel reminds us that what we have is in fact a savior, an advocate. But sometimes we have to wait for the plan to unfold fully.

Bringing the Word to Life This Lent

During Lent, call to mind an experience of injustice from your own life or the life of someone you love. Recall your response to the situation, your anger, your hopes, your fears. Take all of those feelings and offer them to God. Let your heart struggle to feel the faith and the trust that all will be well.

Pope Francis Prays

I entrust myself to you because you do not disappoint; I do not understand, but even without understanding, I entrust myself to your hands.

The Hope of Lent | Franciscan Media

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