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Lectionary 342: Anchor of Hope

February 20, 2017


Lectionary:  342.  Scripture:  Feb. 21: Sirach 2:1-11. Psalm 37:3-4,18-19, 27-28, 39-40.  Mark 9:30-37:

At this stage of my life, I experience the virtue of hope as that which keeps me going on the journey (or is it a pilgrimage?) to our ultimate destination—union with God.  I have come to appreciate the virtue of hope more recently in dealing with news about people I know who are suffering from cancer, strokes, and the approach of death.  Hope is a helpful grace that God has given all of us in all the stages of our lives, but for me I sense it in the stage of advancing in age.  Jesus gave Mary this hope and the same words are used for John the Baptist in relation to his parents, Elizabeth and Zechariah. “They both advanced in wisdom, grace, age, and the Spirit before God and men and women” (Paraphrase of Luke 1:30 and 2:52).

Last week we saw the role of faith and hope in Hebrews; this week we see hope, the anchor of the Christian life, in Sirach’s praise of wisdom.  Sirach mentions hope three times in our passage for today and shows it has an association with wisdom.  I found it as the virtue that brings joy to the soul in some difficult trials on the road less traveled, that is, the one that Jesus leads us.

The Spirit joins faith and love in the virtue of hope.  We have a triad of virtues joined together that help us to be intimate with God, Jesus, and the Spirit.  This is very comforting for viatores (those traveling with Jesus toward the Kingdom).  Hope helps me to wait patiently, to trust in Jesus’ words, promises, and deeds.  It enables me to recall the ideals I had earlier for hope resides in our memory.

I resonated with what Sirach tells us today in the reading how hope prepares us how to live through our trials, temptations, and sufferings.  God really helps you and me when we trust in the one who has given us life and invites us to come back to where we had our origin in God’s creation and plans for our salvation through Jesus.  I appreciated the conclusion of our selection from Sirach: “Compassionate and merciful is the Lord; he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble.” (Sirach 2:11).

Hope is that virtue which links our faith and love and in this respect it is similar to the Holy Spirit who binds the Father and the Son in their bond of love. I end with that beautiful passage from Hebrews that mentions hope in connection with faith: “Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that are not seen, for by it the men of old had testimony borne to them.”  (Confraternity Version)  Hebrews 11: 1-2).  Amen.

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