Endurance And Hope In Jesus Christ
Readings: (1st: Macc 7, 1-14; Ps: 16 1. 5-15; 2nd: 2Thes 2, 16-5, 3; Gos: Luke 20, 27-38)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
On this thirty second Sunday of ordinary time, the Church reminds us of the importance of hope anchored on Christ, and on our resurrection in Him. She reminds us that if we valiantly persevere the temptations, hardships and persecutions of this life, we shall achieve our hope in Christ. Hence, we should always rejoice in the glorious future promised us by Christ, when we shall be filled with the vision of God’s glory.
What keeps us going as Christians is the hope that one day our lives would be better. It is the hope that “we shall see God face to face” (Rev 22, 4). It is the hope that, the fullness of life does not reside here on earth, but in the eternal kingdom of God. Hence, the Church teaches us that: “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit”(CCC1817).
The first reading of today could be summarized in this simple Latin adage which says: “tolerandum et sperandum (we must endure and hope)!” The story of the seven brothers is a typical example of how hope can sustain us. What was at stake was more than just eating of pork meat. Rather, it was about God’s command, and their identity as the people of God.
They faced persecution courageously because of the hope they had in God’s promise of eternal life: “It was heaven that gave me these limbs…from Him I hope to receive them again.” The lesson we must learn from this heroic act is that we must not be afraid of persecutions or hardships for the sake of our faith in Christ. Rather, we should let the hope we have in the eternal life sustain us always. “Let us hold on unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10, 23).
In the second reading of today, Paul prayed for us. He asked “God who equips with comfort and hope to strengthen us in everything that is good.” Paul wrote to a people, who due to sufferings, persecutions, and hardship expected the immediate return of Christ. So, he wrote to encourage them to endure while hoping in the fulfilment of Christ’s promise. Hence, he prays for the strength that will sustain them in their suffering and hard times: “… the Lord is faithful and will give you strength and guard you from the evil one…”
Finally, today’s Gospel is also on Hope. That is, the hope in the resurrection of the dead! The Sadducees were only looking for a way to trap Christ. Also, they wanted justify their belief that life ends here on earth. However, they were wrong. Through his discussion with them, Christ reassures us that life does not end here. Hence Paul reminds us that: “If our hope in Christ is only for this life, then we deserve more pity than anyone else (I Cor 15, 19). Our hope must not end here because we are on a journey toward eternal life in Christ.
Today, the Church beckons us to hold on to the hope we have in the joyful fulfilment of God’s promises and in our resurrection in Christ. Hope strengthens our faith, and keeps us praying. Let us then pray with the psalmist to the Lord: “Guard me Lord as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings, and I shall awake, with the sight of your glory!
Peace be with you all!