Four helps in embracing hope
The word HOPE seems to come up in all sorts of conversations in the COVID 19 crisis that surrounds us all. It is surely the human instinct that yearns for a better world no matter what mess we find ourselves in, particularly a pandemic.
Catholicism describes HOPE as “the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on earth to do: to praise God and to serve him; and for our true happiness which is finding our fulfilment in God; and for our final home: in God” (CCC 1817-1821, 1843)
I have always felt that the popular biblical scene of Jesus walking on the water (Matthew 14/22-33) is full of hope. Arising from meditating on this Gospel passage, here are four possibilities for your prayerful consideration.
- H – Home with Jesus is found in both good times and bad.
Jesus withdrew from the disciples and the crowds and found an encounter of hope with his Heavenly Father in “the hills by himself.” We too can find Jesus in the calm of “a gentle breeze” from heaven.
But, at the same time, Jesus can be found in the terrifying storms of everyday life. Jesus says to his frightened disciples and says to us in the turbulent seas: “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!”
So, in the calm or the storms of life, Jesus offers us the hope that leads to happiness.
- O – Open your hearts to God’s mercy.
Even though the disciples, and especially St Peter, demonstrate “little faith”, Jesus still reaches out with mercy and a fresh start. He repeats with us what he did to St Peter in his fear. “Jesus put out his hand at once and held him”. That is such a wonderful expression: “at once”. Jesus always comes to us, even at the last moment.
I am reminded of what was written on the tombstone of an Englishman some centuries ago. He was not virtuous in his life and was killed when he was thrown suddenly from his horse. The inscription reads:
“Judge not thou me as I judge not thee. Betwixt the stirrup and the ground mercy I sought and mercy I found.”
- P – Persevere in the faith.
Recall that St Peter began walking on the water to Jesus. It is interesting to note that he began to sink as soon as he started taking his eyes off Jesus and “felt the force of the wind”. We must persevere in keeping our eyes upon Jesus in all our difficulties. Focussing purely upon our own issues is a sure way of “sinking” further in the shadows of the night. Jesus is our hope. Look to him always.
- E – Encourage others in their needs.
When we are frightened and upset we tend to focus on our own needs and neglect our responsibility to encourage others.
A Carmelite priest once commented to me on this passage of the scripture. He thought St Peter could have completed his walk on the water to Jesus if the disciples in the boat cheered him on in encouragement. It is true. There is no word coming from the boat by the disciples at this time. We are happy to cheer our sporting teams in encouragement. What about each other? What steps have we taken lately to encourage others battling in the “headwind” of this terrible pandemic?
So these are four humble possibilities to consider prayerfully. They are summed up in the word H.O.P.E.
When we live out hope we say to the world the words of Jesus: “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid!”