Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
The on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia, states that: "Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective." I suspect that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews would heartily accept this statement. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help. (Hebrews 4:16)
One of the ways that I frequently conclude the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass is through this prayer: "Gracious God, we give you thanks for the gifts with which we have been blessed and ask you to continue to give us those things we need. Hear these prayers which we offer in the confidence of our faith." For me, these words speak of the essential nature of intercessory prayer. One can hardly ask God for "more" without thanking God for that which has been given. By the same token, I would find it impossible to ask for something without recognizing that God's promise of fidelity is something in which I am confident.
Psalm 22 begins with a cry: My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why so far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:2) We cannot hear those words without thinking of our Savior as he hung upon the cross. It is obvious that both Mark and Matthew emphasized the fact that Jesus seems to be alone in this hour of trial. His disciples have all run away from him. Peter has denied even knowing him. Though Luke and John record that there were certain people, including his mother, standing beneath the cross, Matthew and Mark make no such claim. Instead, they place the words of the psalmist on the lips of the Crucified, making it seem that even Jesus has begun to doubt God's providential care.
However, Psalm 22 does not end there. Just a few verses later, he states: In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted and you rescued them. To you they cried out and they escaped; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. (Psalm 22:5-6) So while the opening cry seems to indicate a lack of confidence, his reference to God's history with his people leads him to confident faith. Jesus demonstrates this faith in the Garden of Gethsemane before his passion and death by his willingness to conclude his intercessory prayer with words that indicate his willingness to set aside his own will and to defer to the will of his Heavenly Father.
Psalms of confidence abound in the Hebrew Scriptures. We make them our own every time we approach God with the confidence of our faith, a confidence born of our history with God. God, who has loved us so much in the past, will not abandon us in our hour of trial.