Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Transition from fulfilled promise
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Jan. 15, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
There is a poignant bite in the plea of disappointment heard all too often from the lips of children let down by parents trapped in one kind of addiction or other: “But you promised you would!” The broken heart is obvious in the mournful cry which betrays the fear that life’s security has slipped. If you cannot trust your parents to carry through with promises, whom can you trust?
Children do not understand the complexities of addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex. But they do understand the nature of promises.
Promises build a sturdy framework for life. Although not yet fulfilled, a promise offers a sense of direction and hope. Promises weld relationships together, opening up the giftedness of one person to the other. Those who make a promise say “trust me” and lay their lives on the line. The measure of the person’s integrity becomes identified with the fulfillment of the promise.
Promises should not be made lightly. The addict makes them with a frequency which in itself should be noted with particular caution. Usually, the promises are broken with equal dispatch – and, of course, yet another promise to be more faithful next time. The breaking of promises unavoidably breaks hearts, loosens bonds, and questions the security of life. No wonder the children of addicts (even as adults) feel lost and insecure.
A mature, healthy man or woman makes a promise with clear consciousness and firm purpose. They know the power which comes with their word. Such promises are few, but they are always important. They are made with the assurance they will be kept. The “trust me” carried in the wholesome promise is an invitation to let loose and be carried in the embrace of its maker.
As we make the transition from the Christmas Season back into Ordinary Time we gain perspective on the great feast we have just celebrated. Christmas is the celebration of a promise made and a promise kept. The promise was not lightly made, and it was fulfilled in full measure. For the people of God, the Lord’s promise of covenant love stood for centuries as an anchor of direction and hope. A people came to be around that promise – a network of relationships among a people whose security in life was to be found not in things seen and accomplished, but in a personal embrace from God not yet fully experienced. Throughout salvation history God has said “Trust me,” and men and women of faith have waited on the integrity of God. After all, if you cannot trust God, whom can you trust?
Jesus is God’s promise fulfilled. What God has promised with firm purpose to bring about has happened in Jesus: God personally present to and with us, God’s promise made flesh. The keeping of this promise is of no minor significance. Its fulfillment is a definite confirmation in the human heart to pursue all inclinations toward truth and goodness – those subtle hints of God’s promise which still linger in the human experience.
God’s fulfilled promise in Jesus, born of Mary, is a turning point in human history. God’s word can be trusted. Therefore, life has direction and meaning. During Christmas we celebrated a personal relationship whose wonderfulness exceeds the furthest stretch of our imagination. To make an abstract promise that “I’ll be there” is one thing, but to actually become one of us – in flesh and bone – is quite another indeed. No wonder the cosmos joined in a chorus of joy the day Christ was born. Long lay the world in darkness and sin until Jesus came among us. God’s promise is fulfilled! Rejoice! Rejoice!
In retrospect, we can see more clearly that Jesus remains the promise of the season. Tinsel and glitter may have helped, but he is the greatest of gifts. In him God continues to promise us the way to life. If we trust our relationship with Jesus our deepest hopes will be fulfilled – hopes for everlasting joy and life in God. Despite all its distraction and tragic moments, life can be trusted, because God has joined himself to us. The promise of Christmas is truly the gift that keeps on giving, now on into so-called Ordinary Time. Jesus – now the Risen Lord – remains with us. We can trust in him. God has promised.
(Father Savelesky is the diocese's Director of Deacon Formation and pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)
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