We live in a society that is anti-hope. We are bombarded by stories of death and despair, rather than stories of hope. We experience a desire to help those in distress, but feel overwhelmed and incapable in the face of so much suffering. We know that we are called to come to the aid of those in need, both spiritually and physically.
And perhaps one integral way of assisting others is to help spread a spirit of hope in our world. But it doesn’t come easily, and we must ask Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to show us how to instill hope into our hearts and the hearts of our families.
Christ has given us the gift of His Church to guide and instruct us in the struggles of our life. The Church is anti-despair. We believe in the Resurrection of Jesus as the reason for our lives and our hope. When we read Scripture, we are instructed in hope. If we have faith, then we will have hope; the central message of Christ is that we are made strong in our weakness.
To live joyfully, we must believe with our whole hearts that what we are living now is not the last word. This does not mean that our life experience in this moment has no meaning; rather, it has deeper and truer meaning because through it we determine the end where we will live forever.
If we constantly recall to our hearts the fact that we are made for more than what meets the eye, and that we are looking forward to an eternal joy, then we are strengthened to combat despair, for we know that death does not win, but that life and love overcomes all. Thus we can ask ourselves: are we striving for greatness? Surely we will despair if we have given up on the idea that we are made for something bigger than our earthly struggles. We find reason to persevere only when we look heavenward.
A Child’s Hope
We also can look to children to learn about hope. Children always believe that we can make the world better.
When we enkindle the optimism of youth within our souls, we can face life with more expectation and hope. There is something beautiful about hope, even when it is naive. We should not squelch the optimism of youth and childhood, but encourage it.
As adults, the anxiety and evil of life can overwhelm us. It seems inevitable that life will bring us bad news. Because death looms in the back of our minds, we feel certain that tragedy will catch up with us.
Won’t hoping set us up for shock when we do experience suffering? Isn’t it better to protect ourselves? What will we do then if we have lived with a false hope?
A Deep Belief
Scripture answers us: hope in God does not disappoint, no matter how it may appear. We are to believe that the Word of God is true no matter the circumstances, not just if it makes sense to me or provides consolation.
Mary believed that the Word of God was true, even in death. Like St. Paul, we must choose daily to have hope, and to believe in the promise of Jesus. We need to pray for the gifts of faith and hope, and implore the intercession of Mary and the Saints. Indeed, this is the daily challenge of our lives: to believe deep in our hearts that there is reason to expect things to be good or even better in the future.
Instead of assuming that things will get worse, we are invited by Jesus to find reasons for joy, and to look for positive things in our world. How easy and convenient it is to dwell on despair and sorrow, but how easily this attitude engenders in us a culture of despair. We are called to be a people of hope and a “light for the world”.
If joy and hope live within our hearts, we will share with our neighbors a priceless gift: the true hope and joy of Christ. May Our Mother Mary teach us how to live with faith-filled hope.
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