Faith in Jesus as the Hope & Messiah of the World

December 5, 2014 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

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SCRIPTURE READINGS: :  ISA 2:1-5; MT 8:5-11
http://www.universalis.com/20141201/mass.htm 

The beginning of anything is always filled with hope.  This is true in the case of one who starts a new career or of one who starts a new family. Hope begins whenever a new child is born; whenever a new situation develops.  Yes, hope is everywhere.  This is particularly true for the Church as well as she begins the first weekday of the new liturgical year.   Thus it is only appropriate that this message of hope resounds in the Church at the beginning of the liturgical year.

Hope is vital for everything in life.  In fact, a person who lives without hope is one who is already as good as dead.  Without hope, one lives an unenthusiastic life; a kind of shadowy existence, resigned to life and fate.  For those who find such kind of life meaningless and disheartening, they might even attempt suicide.  That is why hope enables one to go on living.  Hope is radically different from resignation, which is but a defeatist attitude towards life.  Hope enables us to look forward and struggle through our crosses each day, knowing that life continues to be meaningful even in hopeless situations.

In Advent we celebrate this hope, the hope of Israel, the hope of the world and our hope.  Like all humankind, we all hope for a new heaven and a new earth.  The scripture readings assure us that the hope of Israel having all nations streaming to the mountain of Yahweh, God’s holy city, Jerusalem would be fulfilled.  In the gospel, we see how Jesus was not only the realization of the hope of the people of Israel but for all, including the Gentiles, symbolized by the Centurion.  He is the Messiah we are waiting for.

But what make us so confident to believe that His messianism is different from all others. There are many kinds of messiahs in the world.  They can offer us social, political and economic freedom.  Yet, these so called messiahs have never been able to fulfill the thirst of man.  The reality is that many people have been disappointed.  One after another, they collapse.  So how can we be so sure that Jesus would be the Hope for all?

Perhaps, the question which we are asking is what kind of hope does Jesus give us?  Unlike all the other earthly messiahs, the messiahship of Jesus rests not on human strength and ingenuity.  It comes from God Himself.  His power comes from His union with God.  Thus, our hope for a renewal is not a hope that simply comes from human strength.  Such hope therefore is certain. 

Secondly, the hope we are speaking about is not simply wishful thinking.  That would be to live in illusion.  We could be accused of living in a utopian dream or building castles in the air. No, Christian hope is real because it is based on Jesus Himself.   In Jesus, we see how God is coming to heal and redeem the world.  In Jesus, we see how the love of God extends beyond all boundaries.  In Jesus, the love of God is concretized in His words and actions.

Jesus indeed, as the centurion says, is one who has authority.  His word is creative and brings to fruition whatever is said.  Jesus indeed is the Word made flesh.  Jesus is the testimony of God’s love for us.  Consequently, because of Jesus, we know that our hope is grounded and not based on some figment of our imagination.

But how can this hope be realized now in our lives?  The gospel tells us that the fundamental requirement is that we must have faith in the person of Jesus.  This means that we are called to open our hearts to Him.  We are called to experience the being of Jesus, not simply hear His words.  We are called to fall in love with Him so to speak.  This is the kind of faith that the centurion had.  For this reason, he believed even before Jesus acted.  Thus Jesus was able to exercise His power of love through him.  Yes, faith is the first step towards realizing this hope.  Indeed, faith and hope are almost synonymous.  Yet it is faith that transcends hope.   While hope is not certain, Faith is certain because Jesus is the fulfillment of our hopes.

Then again, we must not be too superstitious to think that faith in Jesus is simply a blind trust in Him.  No doubt, it is an invitation to surrender ourselves to Jesus but more than that, it is to trust in His words and His promises.  Of course, faith in Jesus’ words will come naturally once we open our beings to the person of Jesus.  When we are touched by Him, our minds will also be open to what He wants to share with us.  We will then be receptive to His vision and His dream for humanity.  Of course, the dream of Jesus is not simply a dream but dream that has come true and will come true in its fullness when we live out that dream in our lives.  For that to happen, we must trust in Jesus and His words as true.

Of course, it is not simply trust but we must test out the words of Jesus in our lives.  And we do this by living out His commands, or rather the rules of life that He has lived and now shared with us.  This is absolutely necessary.  As the first reading tells us, faith requires that we climb the mountain of the Lord to the Holy Temple so that God can instruct us in His ways.  Faith in Jesus therefore means that we want to learn from Jesus how to live our lives; how to understand the meaning of life; how to see life.  Yes it is at the Holy Mountain, Jerusalem, that is, at prayer with Jesus and in Jesus, that God will help us to judge situations and to walk in His light as the Prophet Isaiah tells us.

Now when we begin to share the heart of Jesus in His compassion and love for all, and acquire the mind of Jesus to see things with the eyes of God, then hope is immediately realized before us.  We need not even wait until the end of time or at a certain time to experience the reality of this hope because with the eyes of Jesus, we will see God and His goodness everywhere.  We will see His love even in our loneliness since we are drawn to Him in prayer; we will see His strength, especially in our sickness, we will feel His consolation in moments of our desolation when our friends abandon us; and we will see His face in the midst of poverty, among the unloved and abandoned.   Indeed, to see God especially in difficult and unpleasant situations is to find God among the hopeless.  This is the height of our experience of God as hope.

Yes, Advent celebrates the coming of the Lord.  The Lord has come.  He will come again at Christmas in a special way and definitively at the end of time.  But at Advent, we want to say that He is coming at every moment – the moment when we walk in His way, and in His light – that moment when we experience deep peace and joy.  Now where can peace and joy come from if not from God Himself?   This then is the peace and joy that Jesus promised us, the peace and joy that the world cannot give.  Yes, we have hope and this hope is real when it is a hope founded in Christ.  This hope can be realized once we give ourselves in faith to Jesus and immerse ourselves in His life and love and work.  

WRITTEN BY THE MOST REV WILLIAM GOH
ARCHBISHOP OF SINGAPORE

Retrieved from http://www.csctr.net/reflections/#sthash.k1cGF8j6.dpbs

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Entry filed under: Catechesis.

MEET THE OTHER WITH EYES OF MERCY. JEAN VANIER, PH.D Staying awake

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