Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Our first reading from the prophet Malachi starts with “Lo, the day is coming” and Jesus repeats that phrase in opening of the Gospel, “All that you see here - the days will come.”  There is always a great deal of emotion in anticipation of “the day.”  Sometimes we look forward to the big day with a lot of excitement - our wedding day, the day our first child was born.  Both of those involved not only a day of happiness and joy but the promise of many more to come.  Then there are days that worry us, maybe even frighten us.  It is game 7 of the World Series.  We fought so hard to get here but one mistake and it isn’t just a bad day, it is the beginning of the 109th year of bad days.  As the Church comes to the end of the liturgical year the “day” our readings focus on is “the day of the Lord,” the “end times,” the time of final judgment.

The truth is we are usually worried, afraid of that time of final judgment.  And why not after hearing that description in the Gospel.  “There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; . . They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the prisons, because of my name.  You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives and friends and they will put some of you to death.  You will be hated by all because of my name.”  But we can’t stop reading there because the Gospel, in fact all of Scripture, contains an element of hope, hope that oppression and suffering will end, hope that God’s kingdom will triumph.  “But not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  We are called to be a people of hope but what is hope?

Hope is not wishful thinking or optimism.  Hope is believing in the promise of God and believing that God has the power to fulfill that promise.  What is that promise? God has promised that one day our world, all of history, past, present and future will come together in a heaven, a paradise, a community of life and love around Christ and in God where there will be no tears and no death.  And what power will bring this about? The power that God showed in the resurrection of Jesus, the power to bring a dead body back to life, to redeem what’s been lost, to make straight the crooked lines of our lives, and to bring people together, despite and beyond hatred, sin, selfishness, mistakes, tragedy, resistance, death.  To live in hope is to live in the face of that promise and that power and to fundamentally shape both our memories and our future.  To hope is to look back on our lives and see no need to count the losses, underline the hurts, play the victim, or stew in bitterness because we believe that all our wounds and losses can be redeemed as part of a greater promise. The same holds true for our future. All our plans and schemes must reflect the wider plan of God and we should be prepared to live in great patience as we wait for God’s promise to unfold.

The way we live our lives sends a message to everyone we encounter - it must be a message of hope, not despair.  The way we speak, the way we relate to others, proclaims to the world that we are continually hoping for the transformation of our broken world, not searching for signs that it will be destroyed.  The world belongs to those who offer it the greatest hope.

If we do not look for signs of hope in our world and if we do not offer that hope to the world, then we are not fully living our baptismal calling as the people of God.  Next week is the feast of Christ the King and we are a people of hope on our way to see the King!  The King who is hope incarnate.  The King who created the universe.  The King who has promised that He will restore our world. 

This is our patient prayer; this is our constant hope.