Archbishop Smith: Remembering

12 November 2018

Appears in: Archdiocesan News

On November 11th, our country united with many others in an act of remembering. We called to mind the millions of men and women who, in the course of war, gave their lives in defence of freedom. They died that others might live. Extraordinary. Rightly do we wish to keep the memory of their sacrifice alive. The preservation of our fundamental freedoms has come at a great price, and we must never forget that. The memory of the great heroism of those who fell in war evokes in us sentiments of silent awe and deep gratitude.

Remembrance Day this year fell on a Sunday, when the Christian community gathers in another act of remembering. At the heart of the Eucharist we hear the words of the Lord himself, “Do this in memory of me.” We remember Christ and the great act of his sacrifice on the Cross, and, in so doing, call to mind the astonishing and steadfast love of God the Father for each of us, his children.

This, too, is a memory we must keep alive as the source of great hope. Everywhere today we encounter forgetfulness of God and its immediate consequence: fear. Anxiety and dread are gripping the hearts of many people and families. The common denominator lying beneath it all as the ultimate source of this fear is the absence of trust. When God is eclipsed, is there anything else in which we can place our trust with absolute certainty? We may try to rely on money, possessions, reputation, other people and ourselves, but we know the reality of human weakness and often experience the emptiness of what the world offers. Trusting in anything other than the rock-solid love of God gives rise inevitably to deep anxiety, which we encounter all around us and perhaps within us.

On this same Sunday, we heard the narrative of what tradition has come to call “the widow’s mite.” It is a striking story, and very instructive for us. When the widow put her two small coins in the Temple treasury, she gave everything she had. It was an act of casting off any and all means of self-reliance in favour of a decision to trust entirely in the providence of God. What lay behind such trust? The story does not give the answer, but I like to think her act of self-abandonment to God was motivated by the memory of all that God had done for his people. God had supported both her and her people in their need, and had thus manifested his steadfast love. She knew she could rely on God never to let her down, never to abandon her, always to be with her, and on this basis made the decision to trust.

This is the antidote to the anxiety around and within us. Remember the love of God, and allow that memory to give rise to a deep trust in his providence, which does not fail.

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