Always Hope

Isaiah 43: 18-25; Mark 2: 1-12

“We have never seen anything like this.”

While visiting Haiti two weeks ago, some of the time that we spent was an opportunity to reflect on Catholic Social Teaching. If you only get your understanding of social teaching from TV or Catholic media, you’ll never get the richness that is really there! One of the observations that was made by the group was, that, despite the sufferings that the people of Haiti have endured, even everything with the earthquake of two years ago…the observation is that there is still no despair. That is not often the case even here in our own country. Even Mother Theresa, who spent her life working with the poor of Calcutta, recognized that there was a greater poverty here in the US and that is a spiritual poverty. And so despite all of this, there is still hope. The people of Haiti flock to the church on Sunday and not just for an in-and-out service that we’re used to, but for two hours, because they find hope in things beyond medicine and technology, they rather find it in the Lord. They find it in this Eucharist. They find it in Christ and will do what they need to do to seek out that Christ.

The same is true of the paralytic in today’s gospel and the four men that carry him to Jesus. They very well could have given up and lost hope when they arrived at Jesus’ house and found the crowd so large. Keep in mind that we are only in the second chapter of Mark’s gospel and the crowd has already grown so large and will continue to grow until He makes it to the cross. But rather than giving up and losing hope, become a person of despair, they do what they need to do to seek out Christ and receive healing; so they climb to the roof, rip the roof off, crossing any boundary necessary, lower him in, just to be in the presence of Christ. What faith Jesus exclaims of the five of them!!

The same is true in today’s first reading from Isaiah. Once again this prophetic voice needs to be a message of hope for the people. After years in the desert and experiencing exile, and also knowing their history of the Exodus, you could imagine that they began to lose some hope and beginning to despair and doubt. But Isaiah tells them today…stop! Stop dwelling on the past, stop holding onto what was because God is trying to lead you to something new through the suffering. Don’t lose hope and stop complaining about it all; don’t become the victim of your own suffering!

They are good readings to reflect upon as we prepare to make this transition from Ordinary Time into Lent this week…we need to begin to ask ourselves, are we ready to enter into this experience? Not with lost hope and sad faces because it’s Lent and we have to sacrifice, and we have to give something up, and we have to confront our sinful ways…No, rather, Christ is inviting us into the suffering of our life and meets us there to offer us hope in the midst of it all. Are we ready to enter into those uncomfortable places of our lives, to break down any boundaries, like the paralytic in the gospel today to seek out the true source of our hope, the Christ, so that we too may make that prayer our own: we have never seen anything like this! That’s what God invites us into within our own lives and into this coming season of Lent.

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