Pinocchio, trusting their advice, gets in trouble.
And who are the faithful who trust?
Give to your faithful,
who trust in you,
the sevenfold gift.
Why do we trust some people and don’t trust others? Why do we trust some messages and not others?
Which invitations and promises can we receive? Would we accept them all? It depends!
First: Who extended the invitation?
- Come on, let’s do your homework and then we will play. (from your mom)
- Send me your pictures, I will make you famous! (from a guy you met on social media)
- Jump from the third floor! I will catch you! (from a fireman).
- Eat these “double fried crunch fries”! (from a commercial).
- Come with me for a hike on the mountain. (from your friend).
Second: Who will gain something if you accept?
- Homework. Play. (mom). If you do it, she will be happy for you, because you will learn and will be satisfied.
- Famous! (socials). If you accept he may get money and you may get “likes.”
- Third floor. (fireman). If you jump, he will not gain much, but will be happy if it goes well, and it will also save your life.
- “Double fried crunch fries” (commercial). If you buy them, somebody will get money and you will enjoy them with great pleasure.
- Hike. (friend). If you go, he will enjoy your company and friendship and both of you will taste the adventure and peace in nature.
Third: Who will lose or risk something by extending the invitation or by accepting it?
- Homework. Play. (mom). She risks your pouting and complaining and will waste some time with you. You may get bored and have to make an effort to focus.
- Famous! (socials). He doesn’t have anything to lose. You risk being tricked.
- Third floor. (fireman). He risks his life while getting close to the fire, and you risk your life in either way.
- “Double fried crunch fries” (commercial). He doesn’t have anything to lose, and you may risk liver pain.
- Hike. (friend). He risks your rejection if you won’t accept, and you may need to get up very early if you go. Both of you will struggle and sweat when you will walk uphill.
These examples are very simple, but they offer some valid criteria about trust. Often a gift given with love has cost blood and sweat and involves toil for those who accept it. It is often followed by a deeper and more lasting satisfaction than the passing pleasure and glory exalted in manipulative slogans.
What happened to the Apostles after Jesus’ death? They had believed for three years, following Him and seeing His miracles and living by His teachings, but the Lord’s crucifixion shocked them. Jesus had not hidden from them that He would die and then rise again, but now, alone and frightened, they were not sure how this could happen. Jesus appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, who told the apostles about it, but they still found it hard to believe.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John, 20:19-22).
This is the dynamic of faith: we receive an invitation and a promise from the Lord but we are afraid to risk it. We talk to Him about it and decide to take a small step until we see that indeed (in unexpected ways) the promise is fulfilled; at that point we believe in Him and trust His new promises even more.
Let’s apply the criteria from before to test the reliability of a message.
What is the message? Have peace. I send you. I give you the Holy Spirit. You will forgive sins.
- From whom does the message come? From Jesus (the one who had captivated them, who had multiplied fish and had not backed down in the face of threats. The one who had died out of love and had forgiven his murderers).
- What do the Apostles gain if they believe? Peace. Forgiveness.
- What do they risk in accepting? They will also be sent like Him.
- How much did it cost Him to make this gift? Death on the cross, of which His hands and side still bear the mark.
- What does He gain if the Apostles accept? The joy of having them with Him and of letting many others (including us, two thousand years later!) who find no taste in life experience the Father’s love. The joy of sharing with His friends Peter, John and the others the mission of bringing freedom to the prisoners of sin, to those who are addicted to pornography or are workaholics, and to all the poor people who need Him so much, even to Rome, to India, and to the ends of the world!
The Lord was faithful to His promise and rose again. He loved us first by paying with His life. And now the Apostles are ready to say another yes. One of them in particular will explain why God is trustworthy: it was not we who loved God, but it was He who loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).
Give to your faithful,
who trust in you,
the sevenfold gift.
Can we also be called your faithful, Holy Spirit? Are we willing to take the risk of trusting only in Him?
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, whom He willed to give us when, bowing his head, he handed over the spirit (Jn. 19:30).
We know with certainty where the Holy Spirit acts and is present.
- It is He who inspires the Church and her teachings.
- The Spirit is alive in the Word of God.
- It is the Holy Spirit who makes the Sacraments effective:
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John, 20:23).
Through the action of the Holy Spirit, Apostles and Priests receive divine power to forgive sins through the Sacrament of Confession.
Can I trust and cast all my sins on Christ, trusting in the forgiveness he promises?
Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body + and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. (Epiclesis of the Eucharistic Prayer II).
These words which the Priest, acting in the person of Christ (in persona Christi), pronounces during the consecration in the Mass ask the Father for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit causes the bread and wine to become the true Body and Blood of the living Christ, with Whom we can then shortly afterwards have Communion.
- Is the Lord asking of me something that requires trust and abandonment? Like jumping off the third floor while my house is on fire? I write down what it is. I prayerfully review the times when the Lord has shown Himself trustworthy and surprised me by intervening in my life in wonderful ways. I write down at least three of them. I plead with Him to help me trust his voice, “I’ll catch you!” and to try to launch myself knowing I will land in his arms.
- Do I trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but not trust that the Spirit acts in things that seem “too human” to me? I ask the Lord for the freedom to realize if I have resistance when a Church teaching seems uncomfortable, when a Gospel promise is beautiful but impossible, when I receive an inspiration against the current, when Jesus invites me to Mass or Confession. I wonder: where does the “difficult” proposal come from? Who gains and who loses? I choose one of the underlined things. I trust in the Holy Spirit and let him accompany me to put it into practice by the end of the month. Then I listen to what sprouts in my heart.