[Preaching at the Kennedy Homecoming Mass is a bucket list item for me. I am so freaking excited to be here. I love this high school, and am so, eternally grateful for the education I received here, both in the classroom and outside of it. But the last thing any of you want is to hear me reminisce about how wonderful high school was for me. It would just kind of look sad, wouldn’t it? Yea… so I’ll cut to the chase.]
Who do you trust? Who can you trust? Who should you trust? These are key, life-defining questions. As children, we naturally trust our parents, unless that trust was betrayed through abuse or abandonment. But as we broaden our horizons, and begin to move out of the family home, our circles of trust have to broaden, too. Most of us quickly discover friends that we can trust. Many of us also trust certain coaches and teachers. Some of us will even put our trust in institutions like a political party, or this school, or the Catholic Church.
We have to ask ourselves this question of trust, because a big world is a scary place, and we would be overwhelmed if we had to survive it alone. Having people we can trust means that we can find safety when there is a storm, advice when we are confused, and love when we feel abandoned.
But trust can be hard, because it makes us vulnerable. By its very definition, trust means that we let down our barriers, let down our guard, and allow other people some level of power over us. This is why broken trust is so devastating: being betrayed makes all of our walls go back up again, makes us think that it is us, alone, against everyone else, and makes the big world once again a scary place.
So this week, I want you to pay attention to our football team. Football is one of those sports where you have to trust everyone on the field to do their job, because one hole in the line, one player running the wrong route or not covering his guy, causes the whole play to collapse. Our football players have to work on their own strength and their own skills, sure, but a significant amount of their practice time is also given to learning how to trust each other and operate as a team. And, gentlemen, I sincerely hope that your teamwork on the field also shows itself in how you treat each other and all your fellow students off the field, too.
And yet, sometimes football teams fall apart. Sometimes they lose. I mean, know this never happens at Kennedy, but trust me, it does happen in other places. And it happens with the rest of our relationships, too. At some point, we realize that the people we trust are human, and even if they do not mean to, they do let us down from time to time. This can be a hard thing to realize, because it forces us to ask if there is anyone in the world that we can really, completely, fully trust.
Well, there is. That person is Jesus. And as corny as it sounds, as much as we may want to roll our eyes at the priest saying we can always trust Jesus, I mean it. I am absolutely serious.
We trust a lot of people, but there can only be one person that we trust absolutely, only one person that we open ourselves up to completely. Make that person Jesus. You have every reason to trust him. He has already shown how far he will go to love you and defend you. He has already gone all the way to the cross, without expecting anything in return. Plus, he knows you. He created you, he knit you together in your mothers’ wombs. He has been with you through every moment, every joy, and every pain. Jesus is not some angry God in heaven. Jesus is literally the closest friend you will ever have, and the only person in the world who will never mess up, accidentally or otherwise.
This is what St. Paul means when he says that our only foundation can be Jesus Christ. This is was Jesus means when he says that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus is our refuge in storms, our counselor in confusion, our source of love in every situation.
If you trust Jesus above everything else, then you will be able to forgive your other friends when they mess up. You will be able to forgive them and love them anyway, because you will not have expected them never to fail you. You will not have put unrealistic expectations on them. You will be able to trust them as human beings, because in addition to trusting them, you also trust the God of the universe who will never let you down.
Jesus is the source of our hope, our joy, and our victory. He really is the way, the truth, and the life.
Now, speaking of victory, let’s pray for ourselves, our school, and our teams. Let’s pray that whether we are on the field or off of it, we can show people what faith, trust, solidarity, perseverance, and love look like. Let’s go, let’s fight, and let’s win. Amen?