Sunday, January 1, 2017

Hope in 2017

L. Da Vinci's Annunciation
How many have read predictions for 2017?  Here are some:
Once inaugurated, President Trump will moderate his campaign pledges.
The price of oil will increase.
The euro will crash.
Conflicts between countries will escalate.

However, forecasters can be wrong. Remember Brexit, and our election!

What will 2017 be like?   There’s change everywhere: political, economic, moral, scientific and religious.  There's so much grandeur on this planet and so much misery.  We’ve freed ourselves from many tyrannies--for example, poverty, disease and illiteracy in the G-20 group--only to create new tyrannies, like the spread of nuclear arms.

We may wonder, will random violence and reckless wars persist?  Will depression rob people of joy?  Will darkness and evil prevail?

With faith in Jesus Christ, it doesn't have to end like that.  The horizon for Christian hope is, “He shall come again in great glory and power” and “we look for the coming of the Lord.”  That horizon is what makes it possible to be hopeful and therefore to find life meaningful in what we do and how we live.

At the core of Christianity is the central reality that Jesus appeared alive after his death.  The tomb was empty. God by the power of the Spirit transfigured the earthly Jesus into a new kind of spiritual embodiment. And one day we, like the Risen Christ, will make a similar evolutionary leap in the mystery of death.  Christian hope is the conviction that the universe in which we live has ultimate meaning, that Christ in his second coming will bring to completion the process of transformation begun in his resurrection.

And that is why hope is a fundamental characteristic of the Christian life.  And with that hope, we can gaze into the future with a positive attitude.

January 1 is the feast of Mary, Mother of God: truly the model of discipleship.  In the Gospel according to Luke, the author says that God mysteriously broke into her life and asked Mary to believe that she would bear within herself an extraordinary child.  The author goes on to say Mary “was quite perplexed” by this. God revealed very little: the basic call, the bare bones.  God simply asked Mary for faith, and promised to be with Mary always.

And Mary simply said: let it happen to me as you say.

These words—let it happen to me as you say—tell us what discipleship is all about.  We can very easily say these words when everything is going our way, so to speak.  Problems arise when what is happening to us is not what we want.  We, like Mary, will be quite perplexed many times as we go through the cycle of our own human development from adolescence through young adulthood to old age.

And yet the ongoing call to discipleship demands a ceaseless faith: God will always be near us, closer to us than we are to ourselves.  And God will work wonders in us as He did in Mary.  And in faith we will be able to sing the song of Mary: “my soul proclaims the greatness (the glory) of the Lord.”
Happy New Year!

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