Godtalk: Hope beyond hopes


The scriptures have many references to God's presence in our hearts under three headings: Faith, Hope, and Charity.  How realistic is this hope which the scriptures hold before us?  You hear people say things like: “Time is running out! Greed lays this world waste; our fearfulness stockpiles threats that threaten to bring about what we most fear; our indifference fails to act when we ought to care, and so we reduce our own power to make a difference when at last we do care. Wastefulness, fearfulness, indifference are undoing us. Time is running out.”

There is some truth in this, but once we have faced these facts,  we see that there is no cure but to open the eyes of our heart, the eyes of hope. Hope discovers within that time which is running out a different kind of time - "time not our time" - a time that is coming to fullness. It is under the image of mother and child that hope sees and celebrates in every moment "the fullness of time" Gal 4:4

Christmas happened when the mother's time was "fulfilled" Luke 2:6 and she gave birth. Christmas happens again, here and now, the moment we mother the  Christ-child within us. Mother and child - there is the image that challenges greed, fearfulness and indifference.

Everywhere in the world, mothers nourish; they have courage, they care. The mothers  of the world challenge us to give birth to "the glorious freedom of the children of God" Rom 8:21  through hope.

Are there methods, models, techniques for dealing with our worldwide problems? We must find them, and history shows that humanity is resourceful when facing challenges. It all begins with a change of attitude, a switch of emphasis from hopes to Hope.

Maybe we must first become more motherly. That means facing the whole enormous task, finding one small thing we can do, and doing it with a mother's dedication. In this way, hope is "redeeming the time" Eph 5:16

Hope makes the most of time, exhausts time's possibilities, even time's unsuspected dimensions. In time that grows old, hope sees time that is with child. At the very moment when time is running out, hope allows the fullness of time to break in.

With a view to that fullness of time, that "day of God" dawning, first century Christians asked, "What kind of persons ought we to be?" Arid they gave a twofold answer: We ought to be "looking forward to the Day of God (and) hastening its arrival" 2 Peter 3:12. The looking forward is the alert vision of hope. The hastening of the Day's arrival is the alert action of hope.

Like a mother who looks at her child with the heart vision of hope and does the one little thing needed here and now, the alertness of hope joins vision and action together. Thus, the action of hope springs from the vision of the  Kingdom that is already "within" us. Isn't this the way people like Martin Luther King and Blessed Mother Teresa  radiate what they already hold in hope? This gives them power. "In silence and hope shall be your strength" Is 30:15

Silence and hope. They belong together. Only in the silence of hope can we find our deepest communion.  How can we keep our ears attuned to the silence of our common hope when the divergent voices of our hopes distract us? How can we tune in to their ultimate harmony, audible only to the ears of the heart?

Only by being still. Only by nurturing in our heart a stillness that grows big enough to embrace even contradictory hopes, a stillness strong enough to go beyond all hopes in hope.

Peter Knott SJ