Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.

These days, we’re all doing a lot of hoping for a lot of things:

  1. We’re hoping this pandemic and all the suffering around it will end sooner than later.
  2. We’re hoping the vaccine will be distributed widely and quickly.
  3. We’re hoping that tomorrow’s Inauguration will be peaceful throughout our beloved but beleaguered country.

Hoping for these things motivates and encourages us to work together to make things better for all by doing our part. Helen Keller, who overcame so many challenges in her life, said: “Nothing can be done without hope.”

Towards the end of the 1st reading from Hebrews, we heard these words:

“Hold fast to the hope that lies before us,
This we have as an anchor of the soul.”

Hope is what the letter to the Hebrews is all about.  Those folks were suffering great persecution and were being tempted to abandon Christianity.  The constant indignities they suffered as Christians in the 2nd century were beginning to take their toll.  They were discouraged and losing faith.  This letter was written to them to encourage these harassed followers to “hold on”, “persevere”, and “not be sluggish”, lest they compromise Christ, the only one who is worth such a costly allegiance.  To fall away from him should be unthinkable, Paul tells them.

Hope is not a small time wish or a short-term dream.  As Christians, to hope means to ultimately desire, no matter what happens, the kingdom of heaven and the glory of eternal life as our happiness.  Christian hope lies in what Jesus has done by his sacrifice.  Though he died an ugly death, abandoned by his followers, and jeered by onlookers, our hope means to place our trust in Christ’s promises and on the help of the Holy Spirit.

“Hold fast to the hope that lies before us,
This we have as an anchor of the soul.”

Hope, then, keeps us from discouragement; it sustains us in the hard times, which our world news and events certainly indicate are here and now.  Hope motivates us to continue to build the kingdom of God, to believe this world has a better future, and to do our part to bring it about.  Hope is part of our calling.

We face our daily challenges with hope because we are already victorious in Christ.  This Jesus who not only gave strength to those enduring persecution 2,000 years ago, still gives us strength as we face our personal troubles and world tensions.  Hope is not something wishy or frail; it is rugged and strong because hope comes from God.  Nothing can rob us of that hope; it is the anchor of our soul.