Sixth Sunday of Easter – 14 May 2023


“Gimme Hope Jo’anna” was an optimistic song that turned the tide for freedom and hope in South Africa. With ‘HOPE’ for a better tomorrow, pain and persecution were borne with inner strength. HOPE gave birth to freedom. Apartheid was finally uprooted.

The readings of today are on ‘Christian Hope’. Amid persecution and prolonged agony, HOPE is often the first casualty! The early Christian community was rocked by brutal persecution. They were prime candidates for martyrdom. The second reading from 1Peter 3:15-18 invited the Christians to shame the persecutors by giving them the ‘reason for their hope’.

HOPE is one the theological virtues together with Faith and Charity. HOPE is often symbolized by an ‘anchor’. HOPE places our trust in Christ’s promises rather than on our own strengths.

HOPE cannot be equated to mere ‘wishful thinking’. While ‘wishful thinking’ is limitless desire and abstract, HOPE is grounded in reality and life. But HOPE needs help! Without help, HOPE remains an orphan – abandoned in the nursery of a wishful mind.  

The imminent departure of Jesus was a cause of concern. Jesus did not want to leave his disciples behind in a situation of HOPELESSNESS. Jesus promised them help. He promised them the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who would be with them forever. Without the help of the Holy Spirit the disciples would be lost and fragile amid persecution. Empowered with the Holy Spirit and rooted in HOPE, the disciples faced the future with a power that was bigger than themselves.

Jesus thought of you and me too. He promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to fund your HOPE so that, in times of trouble and challenges, you would be grounded rather in reality than in mere wishful thinking. Relying on your own strengths and resources, you will soon fall into the crisis of hopelessness. We think we know it all and can do it all. But in fact, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we realise that we are only riding on a roller-coaster that leads to a place called ‘self-destruction’. And then, sadly, we blame God.

Today as Christians, you too are caught up in a world that does not know Christ nor the gift of the Holy Spirit. You are Christ’s disciple today. You too have been empowered with the Holy Spirit. You are Spirit-filled and Spirit-led into a helpless world that does not know Christ. The only way that persecutors and onlookers will get a glimpse of Christ, His Gospel and the Holy Spirit is through your courage and HOPE in remaining steadfast in witness.

Today is Mother’s Day. All mothers are HOPE-filled and SPIRIT-filled too. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, all mothers share in the sacred ministry of nurturing their children and families in Christian faith, hope and love. “But those who hope in the Lord, will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint” (Is 40:31). With Christ, all mothers too are a ‘reason for hope’! Hopelessness will be uprooted.

Glenford Lowe

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