The first reading for today’s (February 15, 2017) Mass comes from the story of Noah and the Great Flood. The reading picks up at the point where it has just stopped raining for forty days and forty nights. There is water everywhere.
When God first spoke to Noah to tell him about the coming flood and destruction Noah might have feel good to know he had been good enough to be chosen to be saved from the flood. Now, put yourselves in Noah’s shoes as he is on the ark. He can see nothing but water. How would he even know if the water is receding? Where can the water go? It might have been difficult to have any hope that they would ever get off the boat.
Multiple times Noah sends out a bird to search for land. I wonder how much dejection there was each time the birds returned without any sign of the waters receding. But then came the day when the dove returned with an olive leaf! HOPE!!!
Now, look at today’s gospel reading. It is a story of Jesus healing a blind man. The man is physically blind but it serves for us as an analogy for spiritual blindness. How do we see the world today? When we are spiritually blind and/or living in difficult situations do we see hope?
Think of the young woman who finds herself pregnant and alone. She has no idea how she would provide for the child in her womb. What about the young girl who finds herself pregnant and fears that her parents will throw her out if they find out she is pregnant. She might not see any hope and that can lead to bad decisions.
What about the person at the end of life who feels no hope and can only see pain and suffering. They might like no one cares or that their live no longer matters.
What about the family without a job? How can they provide for their family?
What about the person who works but too few hours or too little pay?
What about the person who feels all alone in the world? They struggle to maintain any relationship.
All of these people need HOPE.
We can show them hope. To the pregnant girl, we can help her through the pregnancy and caring for the child after it is born.
For the person at the end of life, we can offer them compassion, show them love, and help ease their pain. We can show them we care.
For the unemployed, the underemployed, and those who can’t make enough money to make ends meet, we can show them we care.
For those who feel alone and struggle in relationships, we can show we care.
When we wonder how, as individuals, we can do all this, the answer is we can’t do it alone but we can help by being generous to support the individuals and to support programs and agencies that do help. We care pray for the people and for the programs that help them. For those considering abortion it can be Crisis Pregnancy Centers (locally CareNet of Wayne County). For those at the end of life it can be programs that offer comfort homes (locally Laurel House is under construction in Newark or House of John in Phelps is fully operational). For those in between the beginning and end of life, I recommend starting by looking to see what Catholic Charities offers in your area. You can find them locally here in Wayne County, throughout our diocese, and nationally.
May all our efforts show those in need hope. In showing them hope, we show them God and his love.