Today’s assignment: draw an icon of hope. Sit for a moment, now draw. Choose a word to describe or symbolize hope; what would you choose? Do not use “faith” or “trust”. Not an easy exercise. At least not for me.
Reflect on: “No storm can shake my in-most calm, while to that rock I’m clinging” (How Can I Keep From Singing) “All my hope is in you, Oh Lord, you are my rock and my strength” (All My Hope – Dave Brubeck) “You gave your children (Oh, God) good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins” (Wisdom proclaimed today.) Chapter eight of Romans (proclaimed today) is a lesson on hope for things not yet seen. If we did see these things, there would no longer be need for hope. We do not know how to pray, thus we do not know how to relate to God. The Holy Spirit will come to our aid. In our longing to pray, with groans, we hope.
This longing to be in relationship with God is itself a gift. Hope, along with faith and charity, is a theological virtue. As such it is a grace, a gift from God.
Hope is the Holy Spirit entering into our life and finding a welcome home. Together we sit trying to pray. With one another we sit groaning, exhausted, afraid if not terrified. As a community we sit still facing the Cross and Christ, the Living God, the revealed presence of the Divine. In hope we appeal to God. Like the disciples long ago, today we are tossed about. In our weakness, God gives us the gift of hope.
What icon did you draw? What word did you choose? An anchor! Perhaps a rock! In prayer we groan because we no longer wish to be tossed about, unsettled. Hope gives us the tenacity, to hold on and find stability. Hold on to the rock, the anchor.
Why do we need to hope today? If for no other reason than in our weakness we admit that our focus, our direction is not always toward God. Therefore we need to reconcile ourselves to God today.
It’s so easy to list those things that raise our emotional level to stark raving mad. Political polarization. Various scandals in institutions from high government and universities, scandals in sports and entertainment and sometimes the two cannot be separated. An educational system that settles for mediocrity and is greatly secularized. The bombardment of commercialization that is highly sensualized and plainly vulgar. The trivialization of sex. A growing number of people who claim the Bible to be fiction and religion childish therefore are easily satirized and those who practice the faith are marginalized and demonized. The list is lengthy. (I recited a recent reading of Pastor Rick Warren: Napa Institute Conference Proceedings, July 2016.)
So what is needed? An anchor. A rock. Where might it be found? In becoming the Holy Eucharist you receive. In practicing the Bible lessons you read. In living the Mass you attend. In becoming the community of your faith belief. In the time you and your family set aside each day to relate to God alone, without any care for the electronic leash. Time each day to turn away from what is evil and turn toward, and cling to the anchor of our faith, the rock of our Salvation; the Kingdom of God.
We are made by God and we are made for God. The old Baltimore Catechism taught me and most of us that Truth. Our hope will not come from a political leader, a university professor, a major league idol, another invention, an office promotion or a bigger pay check. Our hope, our anchor, our rock is a relationship with God. Our hope is Jesus who is the Holy Eucharist. Let us “Glorify God by the way we live our life.”
What is needed? Religious conversion. If not now, when? It can’t be put off to Ash Wednesday!
"All my hope is in you, Oh Lord, you are my rock and my strength."