Hope Rooted in the Risen Christ

6th Sunday of Easter | May 17, 2020

See today’s readings here. This homily was preached online due to Covid-19. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So as you all know, this past week I became an uncle.

And all week I have been soaking up the stream of adorable photos coming from Steve and Kaitlin.

Looking at Lucy’s beautiful little face and thinking, love at first sight.

But then I stopped and realized, I have no idea when I will actually see this little one.

I have no idea when I will be able to hold her.  To sit in a living room with my family, laughing, chatting, eating.

And then the true weight of these past 60 days began to press upon me.

The fact that I am working more hours than pre-quarantine and yet it still doesn’t feel enough

The fact that people all seem to be hitting their breaking points and are directing their anger, their frustration, their pain at the closest target.  Their child.  Their parent.  The teacher.  The boss.  Their spouse.  Themselves

The fact that I am watching the ugly fault lines of partisan division re-emerge with a vengeance.  People accusing one another of cowardice and selfishness.  Conspiracy theories and fake news once again exploding on social media.  People speaking as if the lives of others just do not matter as much as their own.    Even as the death toll marches steadily upwards each passing day.

The fact that the grave injustices that define our American culture have not disappeared with the pandemic.  On the contrary, they have only become more prominent.

Racism that makes it dangerous for a black man or woman to take a jog or sleep soundly in one own’s home.  Racism that wraps itself around the swastikas and confederate flags waved proudly in front of state houses or strapped to the back of pick up trucks

Poverty that has 1 in 4 children struggling to find dinner tonight, even as we destroy acres of crops with no market.

Low wage workers faced with the excruciating choice of going into work and exposing themselves and their loved ones to infection or staying home and facing financial ruin.

Undocumented immigrants being infected and dying in dispropriate numbers because they are afraid to leave the shadows that we have asked them to stay in, even as we consume the food they produce on our behalf.

So then I get to this 2nd reading and I shake my head.

Give a reason for your hope.

What hope?  Where is the silver lining in all of this?

But then I re-read all of the readings for this weekend and I realized that I was pulling this quote out of context.  

For St. Paul was not talking about hope in some generic sense.  A hope that we create as human beings.  A hope that comes from our own inner reserves of optimism.

No, he was talking about hope rooted in Christ.   The risen Christ.

Who faced his own darkest hour and transformed it.

Triumphing over the forces of sin and death that had seemed so powerful that Good Friday so many years ago.

Who sent His spirit among us to constantly draw us towards one another.  So that as one body we may continue the work of triumphing over the forces of sin and death that still are at work.

Not putting our faith in ourselves but in the Christ who works in and through us.

And it is this hope that has sustained believers through every dark night that we have faced as individuals and as societies.

It allowed Peter to face the cross and Paul to face the ax.

It has allowed the Church to weather Bubonic plague and civil war,  tyrannical dictators and persecutions.

It has allowed us to overcome the loss of a job and the loss of our child.  It has allowed us to overcome the prison cell and the snares of addiction, the violation of assault and abuse and the trauma of poverty and prejudice.  

It has allowed us to endure sickness and back-breaking labor.  It has allowed us to preserve in the face of false judgments and horrendous gossip.  It has allowed us to bear any cross and sacrifice life demands of us.

And it will continue to carry us through these moments.  These moments in which we now live

For we shall rise again.

The victory has been promised and assured.  This pandemic.  This economic depression.  Our own feelings of isolation and inadequacy and fear.  None of them have the final word.  Christ does.

So let us live in hope my friends.  Let us live in hope.

May God be Praised.

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