Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hope is Human

As we celebrate Mother’s Day: thank you, mothers, for your unconditional love, for all you do for us.

Rembrandt's Ascension
The Ascension is Jesus’ final leave-taking so something new can happen soon: the descent of the Spirit of God upon us.  The Ascension connects the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts.  It signals the close of Jesus’ earthy ministry, and heralds the beginning of the Church’s ministry: proclaiming the “Good News” that Jesus is alive and because Jesus lives, we live.

Anticipating the Spirit of God on Pentecost, the disciples were filled with hope.

Hope, quite simply is a confident anticipation of something yet to come. Pope Benedict XVI captured its meaning magnificently in his encyclical “Saved by Hope.”  This hope is looking forward to seeing God as God really is--face to face.

Hope looks for the good in people.  Hope discovers what can be done.  Hope pushes forward.

Hope points us to the future.  And we are fascinated with the future.  What will it be like? Everywhere we see change: political, economic, scientific and religious. The internet, e.g., puts us in touch immediately with people from all over he world. People want to know what will happen before it happens.

Sometimes we may not like what is unfolding.  But what is the Christian response?   Hope.  We are forever seeking to go beyond the here and now, to dream the impossible dream.  We want to reach beyond ourselves for that which is to come.

For many philosophers, hope best expresses what human existence is all about.

History is filled with people who held on to hope.  Images of hope weave in and out of the Scriptures. Initially, the hopes of the ancient Hebrews were very concrete.  And when their hopes were dashed with the fall of the Southern Kingdom in the sixth century, God began to build up new and better hopes for them – a Messianic era, a Messiah.

The New Testament is rooted and grounded in Jesus of Nazareth: our hope.  At the core of Christianity is the reality that Jesus appeared alive to the disciples after his death.  There were many appearances.  God by the power of the Spirit transformed the earthly Jesus into a heavenly Jesus. And this anticipates God’s future for all of us.  By virtue of Baptism, we experience the beginnings of that future – life with God forever.

Christian hope is the conviction that the risen Christ in His Second Coming will bring to completion the process of transformation inaugurated by His resurrection.  This hope challenges us to do everything we can to usher in that future: to advocate peace, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, fairness  This hope in particular challenges all to reach out to that which alone is of everlasting value: the human person.

All Christian hope will be realized when the risen Christ, by the power of the Spirit, hands over the universe at the end of time to his heavenly Father.  May God fill us with Christian hope this day and every day of our lives.

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