Christian hope is a free gift from the Lord – October 2023

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

Think about all the saints and those who have gone before us in faith! They are the fruit of God’s overwhelming love, drawing us to Himself. We are filled with hope as we are given these holy people to guide us on our journey to heaven. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Holiness is not the luxury of a few, but a simple duty for you and me.” We think of those who are officially declared saints; but during the celebration of Mass, we pray with the choir of angels and the communion of saints, who are more numerous than we can count. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends – so many who have gone before us through the ages guiding God’s people to Him. What a beautiful gift we have received. St. Teresa of Calcutta reminds us that we are also called to bestow God’s overwhelming love on each other as we live our lives, through, with and in Him.

It is a joyous invitation offered to us during the Sacrament of Baptism. When we are open to the Holy Spirit who reveals to us how much our Father loves us, we find it easier to believe in His promises and to live as He calls us. God’s matchless love draws us to Him and we trust that we and our loved ones are forgiven for our wrongdoings – the hope that does not disappoint.

We know that God’s time does not follow our sense of measurement. The mechanical clock allows humankind to measure time independently as a series of discrete moments, carefully measured minutes, hours, and days. In our secular world, time seems to be a commodity to be managed.

The Christian sense of time is “ripe with memory, expectation, hope and fullness: it is time suffused with the eternal “now” of the Divine, explains Richard R. Gaillardetz, Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College. He continues, “In this sense, time does not merely march onward; it is elastic, bending backward, folding the sacred significance of past events into our present moment and pointing us to a future rich with promise.” As Christians, we do not see our daily living as just ours alone but enfolded within Eucharist – to be broken and shared with and for one another.

The saints and the faith-filled who have already departed this earth are not lost to us. They continue to guide us through this sacred time, if only we pay attention to the hope-filled wisdom they offer us. Pope Francis offers that Christian hope is a free gift of the Lord that we must ask for, an “anchor that we have on the other side, where Jesus awaits us.” The saints and the faithful departed show us the Eucharist, Jesus living among us by their very word and deed.

Richard Gaillardetz says, “In the fullness of time,” the Lord of Time itself entered our history in a rough feeding trough two millennia ago. In doing so, he rendered all times pregnant with the possibility of grace. Christ our King draws to Himself all our hopes and fears, successes and failures, tender mercies and harsh betrayals, and He weaves them in God’s good time, into a providential fulfillment beyond our comprehension.”

During this holy time, let us pray for one another and guide each other to God’s light. Let us also pray for our troops and veterans, that they receive courage, hope and strength. We join our Holy Father in praying for the victims and people recovering from the loss of life and devastating destruction of disasters, the battered Ukranian people, and in Israel, for those families who have seen a feast day turn into a day of mourning and for the release of hostages. Let us go forth from the Eucharistic table to abide with God in love that goodness and kindness follow each of us all the days of our life.