Sound familiar? If you’ve had any connection to summer Vacation Bible School at your parish, you or the people around you might have heard this message from the very first day. Psalm 71:5 says “For you, O Lord, are my hope.” We teach this to the children at an early age and need to be reminded of this, simple yet profound instruction, daily throughout the rest of our lives.
The past few weeks have been filled with reports on the tragedy in Orlando, FL. The senseless act of violence, terror, death and “loss of normal life” for the survivors and families is enough to sadden anyone who turns on the TV or reads an article in the newspaper or on social media. It is very easy to slip into a deep, deep darkness of heartache, sadness, despair and anger for what is happening in our world. The story of of innocent people dying at the hands of injustice and violence is difficult to bear, yet it is a familiar story. There was the shock and horror of the incident itself but as the event and investigations continue to unfold, stories of heroic effort, selfless acts of love and kindness, caring gestures and compassion for complete strangers emerge and the world sees that evil does not win.
Jesus walked the streets loving people, curing people, challenging people to open their eyes to see beyond what is visible and planting seeds of hope for eternal life and goodness in what sometimes appears as a seemingly hopeless world and time to live in. In ministry, in our vocations, and as human beings, our source of hope is Jesus Christ. As His children, we are given a mission of spreading a message of hope and love to others. How are you spreading hope to your family, friends, strangers and enemies?
Before you answer, let’s re-visit the definition of hope. Hope means to cherish a desire with anticipation. Let me repeat….cherishing a desire with anticipation. To continue, the word “cherish” means to hold something in a deeply felt way. So to hope for something doesn’t just mean “to want or wait” for it. It means to desire with a tenderness, a care, or an affection. Jesus gives us hope in that we desire and long to be with him, be loved by him, follow him, to trust him, to be satisfied by him, to be healed by him and to bring as many people to know him. He is a ransom conquered sin and death in a victory over evil. We are his hands and feet and if we look to him and his teachings, we too, can plant seeds of hope and joy in the lives of others. We have no idea of the impact that our actions can have on someone close to us or the inspiration that might lead and propel others into action.
Below are a few questions that helped me to meditate on previous action and my responses or prepare me to take a different action and response in the future. Take a deep breath and invite the Holy Spirit to help you recall the circumstances when you were the hands and feet of Jesus in the midst of the challenges or events that you have participated in.
- When tragedy strikes or difficulties arise, what did I do or what will I do to help or support a brother or sister in need?
- Has there been a time when I did a good deed and wished I could have done more but couldn’t?
- Has there been a time when I could have done more but didn’t?
- Is it possible to shock others by radical and generous efforts in treating others in a very dynamic way?
Take a few minutes to think about Jesus and his radical nature to challenge the status quo and impact the lives of those who often go unnoticed or those whom people take for granted.
My challenge and prayer for you this week is that you take a leap of faith by giving the gift of hope to an unsuspecting someone in your life. Be radical, move out of your comfort zone and let others know that Jesus gives us hope….so that they can follow him too!!