No one among us mortals knows what the New Year will bring. Unless one is blessed with the gift of prophecy, I don’t think anyone can say what his or her life will be in 2014. There is, however, one thing that we can do, and that is to welcome the New Year with the hope that it will be better than the year that is about to end.
It’s not really that difficult to hope because this is something that has been infused into the soul of every Christian at the time of baptism. But we will talk about this theological truth some other time. For now let me talk about faith, hope and love for these are something that we can stand on amidst the diversities of the post-modern world we now live in — not to mention the economic imbalances that we experience in our life.
What hope is? Hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. With this, I am sure that none of you would think of bad things to happen in the coming year. Our lives today may be characterized by anguish, despair and hopelessness but it doesn’t mean that you can no longer get out of this situation.
We may be feeling hopeless like Jairus whose daughter had died and the ensuing crisis in his life made him dejected and confused. Some of us may have felt this same way. It may not be a death in the family but certainly we were gripped with fear and panic when some of us lost their jobs, when our homes were foreclosed or our cars repossessed and when we were afflicted with serious diseases.
With Jairus throwing himself down (Mk 5:35-43) Jesus said: “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me.” (Mk 5:36) With this scenario, Jesus was not only speaking to Jairus but to us as well. When you look at this scenario closely, you will see that the words of Jesus evoke both hope and promise.
And every promise in the Scriptures, God says, is meant especially for Christians who are favored by God who sees to it that those who walk in his favor will find favor with other people. But how does one walk in the favor of God? Again we will need to digest what the word “favor” means. Favor is an attitude of approval or liking. It is an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.
With this definition, do you think God will favor those who do not have faith and hope in him? Certainly not because no one can even think of hoping and assuming God will bring us good fortune if we have no knowledge of who God is and what He has done for us.
As St. Paul wrote in 1 Cor 13:13 faith, hope and love are at the heart of every Christian. We have often been taught early in life that our relationship with God begins with faith, and this actually moves us to accept that we have all been forgiven and redeemed by the death of Christ on the cross.
Hope then grows in each one of us as we learn that the plan of God is that we may have an abundant life (Jn 10:10) and that we may be happy not only in the present time but in the afterlife. Love that comes from God is what fills our life and provides us with the desire to reach out to others.
The virtue of hope that is in us also grows as we depend on God in times of difficulty. St. Paul in his epistles talked of the difficulties every Christian will face in the future, but it is through these difficulties that we will all grow to become strong and better Christians.
It is faith and hope that allow us to rejoice in suffering not because we enjoy the feeling of pain but because we know that God is using the pain and suffering we experience to build our Christian character. Our problems will eventually develop endurance in us which, in turn, will deepen our faith and hope in God and provide us with the window to welcome the future in love.
Yes, there are a lot of imponderables as 2014 comes in. But we know that we have a God who is bigger than the paradoxes, mysteries, and uncertainties even if these may turn into problems and difficulties. So let us all welcome 2014 with faith and hope in God who gave his life for us and the confidence that He will never abandon us.
Happy New Year to everyone!