HOPE will not Be Cancelled
Last Spring, during the height of the first wave of the pandemic, I went jogging to find some peace. As I ran along the streets of my town, I was lamenting aloud to God. I lamented: the isolation of the lockdown and all the events and activities that were cancelled, friends, Sisters, family members and colleagues who were sick and suffering with the virus; hospitals overflowing, health care workers without protection. I lamented the anxiety I felt about the financial health of RENEW and my staff. My lamenting went on and on. Suddenly I was caught short—awakened by a series of messages written in different colored chalk on the sidewalk in front of me. I stopped and began reading them. The one that touched me most was “Hope will not be cancelled.”
My prayer began to shift. Out of the depth of my lament came hope. As I jogged home I thanked God for the message of hope and once again placed my life and the life of the world into the hands of my God. In both the first reading from Isaiah and in our Psalm response we hear a communal lament. Lamentation is a prayer of faithful people amid suffering. To whom else can we turn, if not to God, when we are anxious and without hope. The Israelites did a good job at lamenting. Lamenting was part of both their personal and public prayer
In this reading from Isaiah they lamented their deep suffering as a people—they are overburdened and oppressed, feeling abandoned by their ancestors and by their God. They even blamed God for allowing them to stray. Their prayer gradually made a shift from lamentation to belief in the power of God at work in their lives. They awakened to the hope that the God who worked wonders in their past would manifest goodness and mercy in a new way in their present suffering.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul awakens the people of Corinth to the truth that God, who has blessed them with so many gifts, will provide them with what they need to face whatever hardship comes their way. Paul assured them that they have all they needed to live faithfully until the Lord’s coming. This is a powerful message for us: God give us all the talents and inner resources we need to face our current situation with grace.
The short parable in today’s gospel tells us three times to “Be Watchful.” This is sometimes translated as “Be Awake!” I think the colloquial expression “Be Woke,” also fits. Be awake, be woke to the God of hope who comes to us now in midst of our lamentations. Lamenting the surging virus, a divided country and a sinful and suffering Church. Lamenting racial injustice, lamenting our wounded earth and 545 children still separated from their families.
As we enter Advent time, we lament with our eyes wide open, asking the God of hope to awaken us to the comings of God into our lives and into our suffering world.
The Indian poet Tagore give us a focus for our Advent prayer and reflection in his poem” Silent Steps”: “Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes. In every moment and every age, every day and every night.
God came to save us and our world in the person of Jesus the Christ, our God will come again on the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord means a future time when the reign of God a reign of justice and peace will be fully established on the earth. And because our God comes. Hope will never be cancelled!
Sr. Terry Rickard, OP
Sr. Terry Rickard, OP
Sr. Terry is a conference speaker, retreat leader, and author. She has spoken on the topics of parish revitalization, evangelization and small-group ministry in various dioceses.
She is the author of numerous publications including Live Lent! Years A, B and C; a series of small-group resources published by RENEW International. She has also written Advent and Lent devotionals for The Living Gospel series by Ave Maria Press and Everyday Witness: Seven Simple Habits for Sharing Your Faith, also for Ave Maria Press; and is a contributing author to Preaching in the Sunday Assembly and We Preach Christ Crucified, published by Liturgical Press.
She holds the degrees of Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri; Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City; and Master of Arts in Religion and Religious Education from Fordham University, New York.
Before coming to RENEW, Sr. Terry ministered in two multi-cultural parishes in the South Bronx, New York, was the Director of Vocation and Formation Ministry for her congregation, and was a member of the Archdiocese of New York Parish Mission Team.
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