Hope In The Midst of Darkness

11. 27.18. Tues. wk 34 – O. T. – (II)
Revelation  14:  14 – 19
Luke 21:  5 – 11

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”

Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?”  He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’  Do not follow them!  When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.”  Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”        The Gospel of the Lord.

Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                  Hope In The Midst of Darkness

The images that we hear in the Scriptures this week can be frightening.  “Powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues” (Luke 21:11), buildings and homes will be destroyed.  “There will not be a stone left on another stone.(Luke 21:5f)  As we listen to these descriptions – for the disciple of †Jesus – there is nothing to fear.  You might wonder: “How can I say that’?  This passage from the Book of Revelations makes it clear – it describes the “Son of Man” and another “angel” wielding sharp sickles to gather the harvest and put them into the wine press of God’s wrath.  That’s pretty serious stuff.

Despite all these terrifying images, †Jesus comforts us when He says: “Do not be terrified”! (Luke 21:9)  At the end of time – †Jesus will come and He will gather the harvest of ‘Justice’.  There is a message of hope that is contained in this as well.   God will extend His grace and His mercy to everyone; everyone who listens to His Words.  Those who have remained faithful will flourish with Him in eternity.  These are the words of ‘Hope’ that the Lord offers us.

As 2018 comes to a rapid close – we see so much darkness in the world around us.  Soldiers still going off to war – homes destroyed by raging fire storms and hurricanes –thousands of refugees descending on our Southern Border – that will probably lead to a great humanitarian crisis before long.  The Church that we have worshiped in since childhood – is in the midst of crisis.  Even in our own lives – some may be experiencing challenges that you don’t know how you are going to overcome.  The future seems so dark!  †Jesus knew all of this would take place – He knew it all.  Yet He still tells us: “Do not be terrified”!  If your life is falling down all around you – if there is darkness in your life and your prayer – †Jesus says: “Don’t be terrified”!

Pope Francis reminds us that our ‘HOPE’ in God will never disappoint us.  Here’s what the Holy Father teaches: “We have such need in these times that can appear dark in which we sometimes feel disoriented by the evil and violence that surrounds us,  by the distress so many of our bothers and sisters…We must not let ‘Hope’ abandon us, because – God – with His love – walks with us”. (On Hope; Pope Francis; Loyola Press, p.1)  The promise of salvation has not changed – the commandments have not changed either.  The way to holiness and eternal life – those remain the same.  If we remain faithful to the Lord – if we love our neighbor as our self – then, we will receive ‘The Crown of Life”.   And knowing His disciples would be plunged into real darkness – we recall these words †Jesus said to them at the Last Supper – just hours before that darkness was to descend upon them.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. (Jn.14:1)  He would also say to His disciples in another place: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom”. (Luke 12:33)

†Jesus longs for us to possess the Kingdom and the Lord will do everything within His power so that we can arrive in the Kingdom.  He sends the grace of the Holy Spirit upon us daily – so we will not turn away – so we won’t be frightened – so we will not abandon His Word.  He gives us everything we need – we just have to open our hearts to receive the ‘Grace of Hope’.

There is also a need to embrace another virtue: “Fear of the Lord”.  We know this is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit – calling us, not to cower in fear, but calling us ‘in awe and wonder’ at the mercy and goodness of the God – that He could love even ‘ME’.  And so we are in wonder at God’s love and mercy for us.  Despite the many times we mess up in our life, God still loves us and He calls us to wonder and joy and hope in His love and mercy.  And through this gift we strive to do all we can to express our gratitude to God – for His invitation that we will possess ‘The Kingdom of Heaven’.

So let us not be discouraged by all the craziness and darkness and the cruelty we see experienced around us.   Allow the virtue of Hope to dwell in your heart and comfort you – because the Lord has been visible in your past – He is active in your present – and promises to remain with you throughout your future.

Pope Francis teaches: “Comfort begins with the opportunity to walk on God’s path, a new path made straight and passable, a way prepared in the desert so as to make it possible to cross it and return to the homeland. (Ibid. p.2)  And that homeland is the Kingdom of God!

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.