Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Reason For My Hope

“Always be ready to give

a reason for your hope.” 1st Peter 15
As you know, the second reading last Sunday from 1st Peter challenged us all to share the reason for our hope. So last night when I couldn't sleep, I started to run all of my reasons for hope through my head–and here they are. I hope that some of you will email me the reasons for your hope, so that I can share them anonymously in a future bulletin. Any blessing we receive from God is never meant only for our own benefit, but rather to be shared so that the grace given can be enjoyed by those we meet on the journey of life. I can’t wait to hear from you.
The Reason(s) For My Hope
I dare to hope, because I am convinced that as sure as the sun will rise over the ocean tomorrow, God’s love will rise and remain faithfully upon each one of us, every day of our lives. I dare to hope, because of all of the love I see in our parking lot every day when the children arrive for school with their families. There are almost always hugs and words of encouragement as the children walk towards the door. Moms and Dads will often stoop down and look their little one in the eye to wish them a good day and receive their embrace. Our little ones often hold hands as they walk to the door, and many of our parents don’t just walk away but stand and watch until the door closes. Some parents even peek into the kindergarten window to see their little one arrive in the classroom. Yes, I dare to hope, because every morning our parking lot reminds me that the desire to love is indeed written on our hearts. For many or most it seems to come naturally. Every generation rises to the task of caring for their children (the next generation) day in and day out, no matter what the sacrifice. Who can’t find hope in that? I dare to hope, whenever I see or hear or taste something beautiful–perhaps when gazing at a work of art or the sight of a beautiful church or image–when I hear a ballad or song from my youth which evokes beautiful memories, or when I eat an incredible lasagna. (There are lots of those around here.) Beauty, and our desire to experience beauty, is written on our hearts. It is a wonderful gift which each of us experiences in a different and unique way. God gives us the tiniest glimpse of Heaven every time we experience something beautiful. Every time we see or hear or taste something beautiful, it causes us to lift our eyes to God. Yes, God gives us beauty to remind us of His love, His goodness, and our destiny in Heaven. God longs that each of us will choose to experience the beauty of Heaven with Him for all eternity. The gentle touch, caress, or embrace of someone dear is also a reminder of God’s love for us. It has the power to unite two people together in a communion of life and love. It reminds them of their commitment to each other. Tender moments can be the glue which holds relationships together even when the storms of life pass by. Love which is properly and selflessly expressed is a great source of comfort and a beautiful reason for humanity to hope. There are also those whom God has asked not to share this special gift, but rather to express their love in other ways over more people for the sake of the Kingdom. They also give me great reason to hope. The Church, our church, the community of believers, is a powerful reason to hope. All over the world people in the Church gather together to offer praise and worship to God. The universal prayer of the Church is one of the most powerful forces on the face of the earth. Both human and divine, our Church is at the same time broken and blessed, a source of healing and sadly sin. However, throughout history the Church has witnessed the power and depth of God's love and God’s mercy for all of humanity. Through the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments, the Church dispenses God’s grace and mercy to everyone who opens the door and comes in. Our Church, both sinner and saint, God’s kingdom, already but, not yet realized, and it is a reason for my hope. I dare to hope, because as I grow older the purpose and meaning of my life grows clearer and clearer. Next Sunday’s Gospel, Mt 28:16-20, explains the purpose of our lives in the most simple and understandable terms. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and know that I am with you until the end of time.” In the grand scheme of things, this is our purpose. God gives us the life mission to bring souls home to Him. Nothing else compares to this important responsibility. When we measure our days and our activities in light of this noble task, what's important and what isn’t important becomes clear and gives me hope. Romans 5:5-8... hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. I dare to hope, because God loves us as we are, died for us while we were still sinners, and calls us all to have a deeper, more generous and loving heart. There are so many reasons to hope, for as St. Paul said: “Hope does not disappoint.”

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