What Does Jesus Mean by “In God We Trust”?
(Spiritual Reflection on Mt 6:24-34)
On the bank note of the United States of America we find this amazing declaration: “In God We Trust.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus our Lord strongly urges us to put our trust in God’s love and care.
The question is whether these are two identical statements or they may contain certain differences, even they are fundamentally in sharp contrast.
Let us start from the very thought of the American society. Fr. Richard Rohr, a well known American Franciscan theologian, wrote in his book, entitled “Job and The Mystery of Suffering”:
The church in the West has looked at the Gospel and history from that superior position for more than sixteen hundred years. We became, not the church of the poor; at our best we were the church for the poor from our privileged position of the rich.
We became a middle-class and even upper middle-class church that largely avoids much that Jesus preached about riches and wealth. The church saw no problem, as most Christians see no problem today, with being fabulously wealthy, amassing huge securities and insurance and properties, and still believing that we trust in God.
The world in general and the church in the West in particular have achieved a living standard high enough, secure enough that the citation of Jesus’ words “In God We Trust” has little to do with what the Good News Message really wants to convey to Christian listeners who in other parts of the developing world only find out that they do not stand on the same social, economic, cultural, and political platform.
“In God We Trust” from mouth of the wealthy and powerful sounds very close and similar to what was uttered by the Pharisee who was praising God—or rather he was praising himself—for his privileged life, much better than and superior to that of the tax-collector and the rest in society:
O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my own income.”
“In God We Trust” from the mouth of those who trust in banks millions of dollars with printed declaration “In God We Trust” appears simply tantamount to a holier than thou attitude.
“In God We Trust” preached by Jesus means that we, human beings, aware of our humble and weak nature and life, just like wild flowers growing in the morning and fading in the evening, put all our hopes and dreams in God, our heavenly Father, Who loves and cares for each and one of us, His children, more and better than our parents do us.
“In God We Trust” sounds more profound when it is proudly proclaimed by Christians in times of extremely hard challenges and persecutions: when not because of your own fault you are jobless, you are barred from taking parts in the building and defense of your own society.
“In God We Trust” resounds as shaking as a 9.9 Richter magnitude scale earthquake when you speak it out without a second thought in the darkness of suffering and loneliness and when you have a thousand times cried out to God for help but not even a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ could be heard from above.
“In God We Trust” becomes undeniably as great as a profession of faith in the faithful God Who always keeps His promises even with so high a cost, that of the blood of His Only Begotten Son.
“In God We Trust” remains forever the love song loudly offered to the loving caring God by children with grateful hearts, along the way of this pilgrimage on earth leading to the heavenly home prepared for them from eternity.
“In God We Trust”: Saint Paul also encourages us to say it again and again when he writes in his Letter to the Romans:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us.
Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.