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The Gift of Hope

In the past I have written about the importance of following the news to know what is going on in the world. I have also written about how the news can be discouraging (see the articles under the category “In the News” on my blog).. At times, I look to the news for inspiration for ideas to write about here. Today I admit I am discouraged by what is in the news.

We need hope. According to a search on www.bibleway.com, the New American Bible Revised Edition translation of the Bible, the word “hope” appears 208 times in the Bible. Hope is foundational to our faith. It is one of the three theological virtues (along with faith and charity (AKA love)).

The online Catholic Culture Dictionary defines hope as “The confident desire of obtaining a future good that is difficult to attain” (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33993, accessed 8/30/22). While what we seek may be difficult to attain, we have hope because it is a gift we have from God. The Catholic Culture Dictionary describes the theological virtue of hope as “An infused theological virtue, received at baptism” (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33995, accessed 8/30/22).

We have hope because of the love that Jesus shows for us as He freely gives his life on the Cross. The Bible is full of the stories of how God has rescued his people. These stories help us to know the hope that God gives us.

We live in a world that is turning away from God’s Truth. As we read in 2 Corinthians 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity.” What are we to do? We hold onto what God has taught us. We lament but we do not despair. The Catholic Church Dictionary definition of “despair” begins “The sin by which a person gives up all hope of salvation or of the means necessary to reach heaven” (https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=33048, accessed 8/30/22). We can be assured of hope for salvation because Jesus’ died for our sins.

The number of people who practice the Christian faith is shrinking but Christianity will not disappear for “nothing is impossible for God.” The fact that people fall away from faith is nothing new. It happens over and over in the events of the Old Testament. The word “remnant” is used 77 times (according to a search on www.bibleway.com) in the New American Bible Revised Edition translation. It is used to describe those who held fast to their faith.

God does amazing things through this remnant. Do we choose to be part of the remnant that keeps the faith today? It is not easy. People will speak against us. Do not be afraid. God will help us. I find it difficult to know what to do to strengthen the remnant and to know how to reach out to those who do not practice their faith or those who have no faith. I do not have a plan of my own. I don’t have to. God has a plan. As God spoke in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the Lord—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

Again, the struggle of faith we face today is not new. The Book of Job in the Old Testament tells of the difficulty that Job faced. Job was a rich man in material things, family, and faith. He lost his material wealth and his family to the devil. He even struggled in faith but he did not lose faith. He asked the question we all ask when we struggle, “Why?” He seeks understanding but he comes to realize that he is not going to understand everything. What he can do is trust in God.

We pray that God reveals to us what we are to do to fulfill his plan and that He gives us all that we need to fulfill it.

God is our hope and our salvation.

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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