“Our hope is not a concept, it is not a sentiment, it is not a mobile phone, it is not a heap of riches! Our hope is a Person, it is the Lord Jesus whom we recognize as living and present in us and in our brothers, because Christ is risen.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Pope Francis acknowledges the well spring of our joy and peace of Christ, and that is the ability to see the presence of Christ in each of us. That is the foundation on which our hope is built and it is the basis on which we experience the joy and peace of Christ every day in this century, in this time. It is not the ceremonial recreation of events from two millennia ago, but the rebirth that flows each day when we seek and find the Christ that dwells in each of us.
But all this bounty is not a passive activity for us to just enjoy. It is an impetus for us to act. The Pope’s next comment after the above introduction was that our hope needs to “be released outwards, taking the exquisite and unmistakable form of gentleness, respect and goodness towards our neighbor, to the point of forgiving those who do us harm.” This exhortation calls us to compassion and love, in the most challenging circumstances. We are called to give witness to love and mercy in all our actions.
This sounds great, but what does it mean on a practical level? We behave civilly, we do not treat people with disrespect, we are pleasant in our daily lives. That is true of most of us as we navigate our daily lives. And that is a healthy start. But are there areas where we turn the other way, we do not look, we are indifferent? Do we look the other way when we see a homeless person? Do we hasten to our destination when we walk by someone begging on the street? Do we avoid certain people because we do not want to have to talk to them? Do we harbor resentment because we think people take advantage in some way? Do we overlook the Christ that is hidden deep within everyone? These are hard challenges for all of us. They disrupt our own sense of peace and well-being, they take us outside our comfort zone.
We will never be perfect. But we can always be better. This is our hope, and how we experience the joy and peace of Christ’s Resurrection. Our hope flows from our efforts, not our results. And at all times, we are assured of the unconditional love of God.
Be assured of my prayers for you and I ask that you pray for me as we all continue to find the Christ alive in each of us.
Sincerely yours in the Risen Christ,
Father George Zięba, C.R.