By Most Rev. Richard W. Smith, Archbishop of Edmonton

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Little Child Will Lead Them

These words from Isaiah came to mind after something that left me feeling rather embarrassed. I only hope no one saw me blush. Here is what happened.

My travel to San Antonio last week did not go as planned. Weather delays and other issues resulted in re-routings and delays. With every change my frustration mounted. When I finally got on the plane for the last leg of the journey, I was annoyed, silently cursing my sorry lot. Then a young mother with her daughter, about nine years old, took the seats in front of me. It was evident from their obvious fatigue and exclamations of relief that their travel day had been worse than mine. Yet the mother looked at her daughter and spoke of how grateful they should be to the Lord who had brought them safely to this point. Then the little girl looked heavenward and, speaking loudly enough for all to hear, thanked God for looking after them and getting them through the day. If there had been sufficient space, I would have sunk completely under my seat, I'm sure! My focus was entirely on my problems, while theirs was on the goodness of the Lord, present in the midst of their difficulties. Lesson learned. That night I thanked the Lord for the witness of those two wonderful people and for bringing me up short through the voice of that child.

Saint Paul admonishes us to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1Thessalonians 5:18). Behind this instruction is faith's certainty of the Lord's abiding presence, guiding us in all things and turning all to the good for those who love him (Romans 8:28). Life gets immeasurably more difficult than irritating travel delays. That little girl reminded me of the truth that we can at times allow hardship to eclipse from our sight, namely, that God remains close, often carrying us in ways and along paths not of our choosing and beyond our understanding, but always toward that which is for our good. This is why we are always to be thankful, even in tough situations. It helps us remember Who is in control, and who is not.

At Mass yesterday we heard from Hebrews a beautiful definition of faith as exemplified in the lives of Abraham, Sarah and the ancients: "Faith," it reads, "is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." The foundation of this assurance is the fidelity of God to his promises. Trust in God's faithfulness is the wellspring of gratitude. God has pledged in Jesus Christ always to be with his Church (Matthew 28:20). Let us trust in His Word and give thanks today for his presence, love and guidance.