This was originally prepared as a reflection for a youth ministry session at St. Anthony of Padua parish.
“Hope” is a word we use a lot on a daily basis. We say things like, “I hope you are doing well,” “I hope I get this job”, “I hope the restaurant has gluten-free food,” “I hope the pandemic will end soon.” We hope for something which is difficult to attain ourselves. We don’t say “I hope there will be air to breathe tomorrow,” because we expect there to be air.
But what does “hope” mean in the Christian sense? What is the virtue of hope? Ordering of one’s live in the ultimate sense towards God, towards final salvation. Trust in God, extended into the future.
To be honest, it was difficult for me to come up with something to say for this reflection. Hope, in the Christian sense, isn’t really something that I think a lot about on a daily basis. Of the three theological virtues, one could ask, “do you have faith?” Yes, I believe in God—in the Father, Son, Holy Spirit—and the sacraments, etc.; “do you believe in love or charity?” Sure, as Christ loves me, I try to love others the same, and do good, etc. Those are the easy answers, but how often do we hear the question, “do you have hope? or the joy of hope?”—huh??
I think it’s sometimes easy to forget about the virtue of hope, as we are too occupied with the trials and tribulations of our present lives to think about the future. People who are stuck in the rut of sin or suffering from health issues or disease, or are living in situations of economic, social, or political strife can lose hope.
2020 has been a difficult year for many: our daily routines have been upended by public health restrictions; people have lost their jobs; people have lost family members or loved ones due to the coronavirus; churches around the world have been closed and we’ve been unable to participate in or receive the sacraments in the same way as we had in the past. 2020 has made it easy for people to lose hope in God.
But on the other hand, hope is what will get us through our tough times, whether it be the daily stumbles, our struggles, or the coronavirus pandemic. Hope is setting our eyes on the end goal. What’s our end goal? Heaven. I want to get to heaven, and I hope you do too.
How do we hang onto hope during turbulent times?
Ask for it through prayer. Hope is a gift from God, and we can ask Him for more of it. Receive the sacraments when we can. Yes the pandemic restrictions have made access to the sacraments a little more difficult, but we are still able to observe Mass online, and receive the Eucharist after Mass if we are safe to travel. Going to the sacrament of reconciliation will help us get out of the rut of our sins.
Keep our eyes fixed on Christ. Recall (Matthew 14:22-33) when Peter had his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk on water; however, when he started looking at the large waves and the storm around him and became afraid, he started to sink. If we start looking at the storm in the world around us instead of keeping our eyes on Christ, we will also “sink.” As a virtue, or “good habit,” we also need to practice ‘keeping our eyes fixed on Christ’ ourselves regularly in our daily lives, in the decisions we make and the actions that we do, in order to grow in hope.
Remember that life in Christ doesn’t mean that everything will be easy peasy and smooth sailing. We will encounter suffering in our lives. However, with hope, we recognize that God is always in charge; he never leaves us. God may permit some evil in order to bring about a greater good.
For me personally, I have been lucky to not have been significantly affected by the pandemic. In fact, this past year has allowed me to strip away a lot of the unnecessary things of my life, and add back things that are more necessary. For example, by working from home, saving my commute time, and other commitments being turned online, I’ve been able to attend daily Mass more often (which I rarely had done in the past), and I’ve also been able to spend more time improving my personal prayer life. I hope that you are able to find some ‘good’ that has come out of the pandemic for yourself.
How can we share hope around us?
Who around us are missing the light of Christ because of the pandemic restrictions? Who are still anxious, or afraid, or just lost in their lives and not seeing where God is?
Connect with those you know who may be lonely or isolated. Extend a helping hand.
For those around us who might be stuck in the rut of sin, it might be good to help them towards the sacrament of reconciliation. Or for those who have anxiety or concerns with mental health, maybe it’s time to help towards professional help.
Hope is our anchor. Hope is something we look forward to at the end. Hope gives us meaning and purpose in our lives despite the roughness and darkness in our lives. Have hope; have faith. And let us be beacons of hope to those around us.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 1817-1821
- Hope During the Coronavirus – Bishop Barron
- Bishop Barron on Faith, Hope, and Love
- Word on Fire 066 How to Have Hope – Bishop Barron
- What Is Hope and Why Do You Need It? – Fr. Mike Schmitz
- General Audience – 2017/09/20 – Pope Francis
- The thread of hope – Pope Francis
- In trying times, how can Catholics stay hopeful? – CNA