Two weekends ago I wasn’t able to be here at Mass because I agreed to help out with the Senior retreat for Ascension High School. We went up to the Feliciana retreat center near Norwood Louisiana, about a 90 minute drive. When we first arrived we did what is called a low ropes course and one of them was the trust fall. You stood up on a 5-foot platform put your hands together and fall backward. The supervisor told you when you fall back we will catch you, but the challenge is, do you trust your friends to catch you? I did it eventually and got myself to fall back, and it was a great experience. There was for a split second a hesitation in me, wondering will they catch me, but I was able to fall back, and they caught me!
The Prophet Elijah promises a Widow that the Lord will provide for her and until rain falls on the earth her jar will not run empty. Elijah promised that God would provide for her and keep her from dying from starvation. However, Elijah doesn’t just give her this gift she asks her to make him a cake and bring water.
She was in control of the end of her life, she had a plan and was trying to play it out. However, Elijah came to challenge her to put her faith and trust in God. She had to let go of what she had, the plan she had and give a small piece of cake to Elijah. She had to risk dying sooner than she thought, not being fed with the little she had, and show her trust in God.
The same idea is at play in the trust fall and this story. When I fell back, the student’s promised to catch me, but I had to be willing to risk falling to the ground and hurting myself. Elijah Promised God would give her enough food to survive, but she had to give up her last food and risk losing everything to accept this promise.
We see the same radical trust in God in the Gospel today. Just like Churches today, the Jewish temple had a place to put donations to help the temple run its standard activities. People gave what they could; some would pridefully give large amounts, making sure it made a sound going down, while others gave small or medium amounts. Jesus in the Gospel was observing them and seeing who was putting in what. Then came this woman, a widow. She had two small coins to her name. These two coins are about an 8th of what someone on minimum wage would make in an hour. The little she had to her name she gave it all to her faith, to the temple treasury, no promise she would make that money back, and no guarantee that her life would improve because of this action. However, she still gave up the small amount she had. Jesus was pleased by this offering. The little she had wouldn’t amount to much in the treasury, it may not have bought anything worthwhile in the temple, but in God’s eyes, this was the greatest gift anyone gave that day.
These women to us are an example of trust and faith in God. Elijah was speaking on behalf of God and by giving up the last of her flour to food, Elijah should that she trusted God would provide. The same is true for the woman who gave up her last two coins to the treasury. They knew God would provide for them, so they were willing to give up the last of their security, their food, their money to trust God.
What can this look like in our own lives? We may not be in the same situation as these women, who had nothing but they gave up the little they have. However, we should still follow after their example and show the same faith and trust in God.
In my own life in some ways, I can relate to this trust and faith in God. When I entered the seminary, I had planned and dreams about my ordination. It would be a certain date, and I would be a priest at this age and hopefully for this long before retirement. Then in my own prayer life, God said, you need to let that go because plans are going to change for you. If things went my way I would be a priest right now, probably not at this parish but a Baton Rouge Parish. I was scheduled to be a priest this past may than that plan changed and I’m still a Deacon and still looking forward to my priesthood ordination. In my own prayer life, I heard God say to me, this will work out for your good, and you will be a better priest because of it. I had to let go of my original plan, trust that God would work it for my good and move forward.
God will call us to trust him in many different ways. I don’t know what that may look like in your own lives, what challenges God may put in front of you in your life. I do believe though that God will give us the grace become holier and eventually get into heaven. God calls us to let go, to give up the little we may have, and offer it over to him.
The trust fall can help us understand the trust and faith we need to have in God. As you sit on the edge of that ledge, you must be willing to let go, fall back, and give up all control that you have over keeping yourself safe. There is a real possibility you will fall and hurt yourself, but the people under you promise to keep you safe, so out of trust and faith you fall back. In our own lives of faith sometimes we have to let go of all control, give up the little we have. It’s scary to do this because we know we may end up worse than we were before, but God promises us that he will help us, and raise us. As we continue in our journey’s of faith may we allow ourselves to let go, fall back, knowing God will be there to save us.