At Christmas we hear of the coming of the Saviour and therefore the coming of Holy Hope. We celebrate the birth of the Messiah and relive the moments with Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels. We hear “Be not afraid…this is good news of great joy to all the people” (Luke 2, 10) This is living hope. Sung by the angels and witnessed by the poor, not the rich.
Why then should this be important, this hope? Because after more than 2000 years since his birth we still have poverty and illness, and social ills. We still need that hope coming with the message of the angels.
St Paul said in his letter to the Romans (15: 13, 21)
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope…as it is written ‘They shall see who have never been told of him, and they shall understand who have never heard of him’”
1. God is a God of hope.
2. Joy and Peace from believing in Him.
3. Holy Spirit and Mission of Hope
God is a God of hope.
Much our world has lost hope. So frequently we hear and see this loss and the accompanying despair. Hope is something quite necessary to continue being in life. It is the loss of hope that has created a world where abortion and euthanasia is legal. There is, for these people, a lack of hope.
But we have a God of hope. We believe in him and therefore in his hope. St Paul speaks here of a God of Hope. The same God who led Abraham from Ur, the same God who led the Hebrew people away from slavery in Egypt, the same God who promised a Messiah who would save his people from slavery to sin.
This God, is our God. He created a world that turned from him and resulted in separation and sin. It is a world which sees independence from God as a gain, a goal to achieve as if submission to the Holy Will of God was a torment. To flee from God, is for many, a desire worth having. And so they go their own way in that freedom God gave humanity. A freedom to return to Him who cares and loves them. But instead is used to run in the opposite direction. The encounter which awaits them with this loving God is renounced.
But for those who choose to turn to Him, they find in God, a great consolation. Submission to the Divine Will is not a burden as other burdens are for these people. This is a yoke that is willing taken because the Saviour and Redeemer of humanity is taking the shared burden. He said Himself, “…my yoke is east, my burden is light”. Could it be made any easier for us to enter into a path to find God than one already marked out for us and shared by the Redeemer himself?
Joy and Peace
So what is the result? Joy and peace.
But my burden… Yes the burden will still be there. Be it difficulties with our companions in this life, be it the work we are given, be it desires for an easier life, boredom with the repetitions in religious life, a sense of failure in tasks.
Monsignor Ronald Knox of the United Kingdom said this of our lives: “…detect and be on your guard against something very subtle…our secret faults” These are various and quite individual to each of us: complacency? Sentimentality? A love of ease? Ambition or desire to shine above others? It can be dangerous and may slip our notice even in an examination of conscience.
All have burdens, but we have a shared task with the Master. And by sharing this He offers us a joy in sharing His work. His work is the salvation of humanity. We are part of that and that knowledge alone should bring us great joy and consolation even in dark days and days of trials. And from that joy from this knowledge, we find peace. Real peace, not the peace the world knows or thinks it has found. It is peace like no other. A joy that arrived in Bethlehem so long ago as the angel declared to the shepherds: “I bring you good news of great joy”. This was not the way that the people were expecting. Not the great king-messiah who would liberate them from Rome. But joy because rather than free his people from slavery to the Romans, he would save them and us from slavery to sin. Kingdoms and empires would come and go. But the need to end the slavery to sin was the greatest need of the people.
Holy Spirit and Mission of Hope
So what can we do? We have what the world can only dream of. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to free us, to delivery us from the bonds of our world and that same power to offer us the power to abound in hope. Abound in it. That isn’t simply to exist in it. It means we have an abundance, a fullness which permits us to overflow to others this hope we have in our lives. A world in great need of the saviour. In and of ourselves we might not be able to accomplish this. But with the Holy Spirit to help we have more power than we could ever imagine.
And with this great power at hand we can accomplish the mission assigned to us. No matter the form of this task and burden. It may then be seen as part of the greater mission. All of these tasks become essential and carried on in joy and peace to those who many not have heard, or at least not heard the whole Gospel message before.