HOPE THAT ENDURES

Wednesday, Fourth Week of Lent

March 29, 2017



Isaiah 49:8-15; Psalm 145:8-9.13-14.17; John 11:27-30

By *Mr. Ekesiobi Christian, nSJ

In the first reading, the Church presents us with hymns of comfort and promises from the oracle of God. It is a message of reassurance from God to the exiled and suffering people of Israel. "I will not forget you", He tells them. Despite God's assurance, the Israelites gave in to the weight of exile – they recessed into painful despair and conclude, "the Lord has forsaken us". Anyone who has experienced despair knows what it was like for the Israelites.

Jesus, in the gospel of today, also finds himself in a similarly difficult moment. He is aware of the impending chalice from which he must drink and foresees a wave of despair that awaits the apostles who have placed their faith in Him. Keeping all of these in view, He begins to reaffirm the faith and reassure the hope of his seemingly confused followers; thus reminding them of his oneness with the Father. He continues to reiterate his central axiom: "He who hears my voice and believes him who sent me has eternal life".

Closer reflection on both the readings of today basically reveals a string of discord between the proclaimed words of hope for comfort and the humanly realistic foresight of the people. How do you expect someone to dance to the resounding melodies of triumph and remedy to which he has endlessly listened and for which he has hoped in vain for its manifestation? – that was the plight of the Israelites. In the same vein, how would you expect the disciples to believe in the immediate hour of life for all who hear his voice, when at the moment all they can foresee is an immediate hour of death for the same master, and thus, destruction of hope for them? It turns out to be a crisis of hope for both parties.

Definitely, in our present time and condition, we share in the same derision of crisis. As the world drifts towards and fosters its own trends, entirely different from what we hold fast to as the gospel values, it continues to seem as if we are fighting a lost battle by upholding such values and belief. Imagine a corrupt socio-economic setting wherein the modus vivendi calls for the survival of the fittest and thus, you are robbed of your basic rights because of who you are... . Or an anti-moral or anti-humane setting wherein you become an outcast just because you refuse to compromise your standard. At times, it even becomes more excruciating when your exercise of the Christian virtues of faith and hope in God gets rewarded with more and more unbearable circumstances and challenges. All of these lingering to the very extent that one might be so tempted to doubt the promises of God for him, thinking that the best of hope is not to hope at all in God. At this point, the question remains: "How have we reacted or do we react to such giving?"

Perhaps, if in any way we have unconsciously fallen into such despairing laxity, and have been subsumed into the normal trend of the world, we are invited, most especially during this season of Lent to consider a redirection of purpose and reaffirmation of hope in God and his promises to save us. He is kind and full of compassion, ever ready to embrace and hold us firm. We must cling to him with an utmost conviction and hope in his promise never to abandon us, such hope that would endure every trial for a greater goal in God.

May the good Lord grant us the necessary graces for these. Amen.

 

By *Mr. Ekesiobi Christian, nSJ, is a second year Novice at the Jesuit Novitiate in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. 

 

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