October 20, 2012

The Hope of God

Periodically, I like to refer to a beautiful mystery that plays out in the life of prayer.  Namely, in the midst of all kinds of difficulties and trials, we are able to hope in God because He hopes in us even more.   There are some who wonder whether this is true.  In the light of all our frailties and failures, does God really hope in us?

I cannot take credit for this idea.  It seems to be a theme in the writings of Charles Peguy.  I remember a gathering of youth where John Paul II used this same idea.  It is just not an idea we hear very often.

Is it Scriptural?  In fact, God the Father has such great hope in humanity that He sent His only begotten Son into the world.  He expressed the immensity of His hope in the most tender way by placing His Beloved Son into the hands of Mary and Joseph.  His hope in us never wavered even unto the Cross where the full extent of human wickedenss was revealed.  He still saw something good in humanity at that moment, He still had a reason to believe in us even as we utterly rejected Him.

Jesus, the Son of God for His part, allowed Himself to be totally dependent on us.  He revealed the extent of His trust He placed His life in the hands of the holy family and in the hands of the communities in which He lived in Bethlehem and Nazareth.  It is interesting to think that in both places, attempts on His life were made.   Nevertheless, He chose, like the Father, to trust us.  In fact, in making this decision not to lose hope in humanity, He was revealing to us just how much the Father hopes in us.  His trust in us never wavered.  He trusted us as a falsely condemned and completely humiliated man, even to His last breath.  

This divine trust, this sacred hope continues to live in the Church through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Trinity trusts us so much that through the Holy Spirit we are constituted into the very Body of Christ by faith and baptism.  This means that the Risen Lord entrusts the work He is continuing to do into our hands.   Through Holy Spirit working in the ministry of a priest, the hope of the Risen Lord is dynamically present in all of the Sacraments and the proclamation of the Gospel in the liturgy.  God's hope is especially communicated to us in the Blessed Sacrament where He continues to entrust Himself to us: Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

What is the basis of this hope on the part of God?  What does the Father see in us?  What does the Son see?  Jesus is always driven by the glory of the Father -- for He loves the Father.  He sees everything that gives the Father glory.  Christ only sees and contemplates what is the most good and beautiful reality of our lives - He discerns the divine image and likeness with which we were fashioned and in this He knows our true identity and purpose.  He believes in us because He believes in the glory of His Father for which He was sent that we might manifest this glory too.

And the Father?  He contemplates his beloved Son -- because when His Son entered into our humanity and embraced it to Himself, He fundamentally transformed the meaning of humanity and restored the ancient dignity we lost by sin.  He sees each of us animated with the life of His beloved Son so that we might fulfill the great purpose He has entrusted to each of us uniquely and individually from the eternal moment He first thought of us.  He is confident in His Son and the power of His life in us - so He never loses His confidence in us.

But does this divine hope in frail humanity not shake the way we look at the Christian life?  So often I thought that God was counting on someone else -- but going deeper, one realizes that it is not someone else at all.  God places Himself into our hands every day not only in the Eucharist, in the Holy Scripture, and in prayer but also even more poignantly in the poor, the vulnerable, and all those He has entrusted to our care - because it is through them that the grace of the Risen Lord is at work and the glory of God made manifest to the world.  It seems impossible - but all things are possible through God who strengthens us.