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Hope’s Enduring Flame

Updated on December 1, 2020

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all

~ Emily Dickinson

In today’s 1st Reading (Romans 8:18-25), Paul reminds us that discipleship in Jesus is and always will be a delayed gratification proposition, wherein the fire of the Spirit shapes our souls, burns away our iniquities and enflames our hearts with the grace of God’s love and mercy.

“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us” Paul proclaims, going on to speak of the eager expectation with which the children of God await his revelation. He goes on to liken this palpable euphoric anticipation to that of a woman giving birth.

“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved.

A life devoid of hope is tragic. A co-virtue of hope would certainly seem to be endurance laced with a little bit of faith and knowledge of the generally fleeting nature of circumstance - good, bad, or indifferent. As John Guare said “It’s amazing how a little bit of tomorrow can make up for a whole lotta yesterday.”

In our Gospel today (Luke 13:18-21) Jesus chooses a topic that is without question the very focal point of our hope, of course I’m talking about heaven. “What is the Kingdom of God like?” Jesus rhetorically muses, going on to compare it to a mustard seed that when, planted and fully grown, became a large bush wherein ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.’

He then goes on to compare the Kingdom of God to yeast, that when mixed with three measures of wheat flour became like leavened dough.

A mustard seed...from meager beginnings come tremendous endings.

Yeast...a tiny amount will leaven a large amount of flour which in turn produces dough...from meager beginnings come far bigger endings.

Throughout Scripture we encounter a God who relishes and rejoices in our cooperation. Through the gift of our free will, our intelligence and our creativity, He seeks to involve us in all that he does. Divine seeds are planted and God engages us in the task of cultivating them.

Our Psalm today proclaims that “The Lord has done marvels for us,” but it very well could have read “The Lord has done marvels with us.” This is the immeasurable generosity of our Lord at work in our very lives, seeking to share unceasingly with us his divine providence.

But it takes faith. It takes patience. And yes, it takes hope, hope in that which we do not always readily see.

Endure with great hope and joy, for we shall one day rejoice in the Kingdom of God...where upon casting our glance but even for a fleeting moment upon the beatific vision, there will no longer be a need for hope.

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