"It ain't over 'til God says its over"
I believe that I shared with you an old family story. Way back when, Laura, our eldest daughter, asked Elizabeth to buy her a toy. In those days, money was quite scarce, and we, having three children in tow could not afford to buy them all they wanted.
Laura looked at her Mum, and before Elizabeth could say, “No Laura; we can’t afford it”, Laura said, “Mum... don’t tell me that you can’t... Please tell me, ‘One day I will buy it for you.’”
“Out of the mouth of babies” (Psalm 8:2) comes truth, isn’t it? The lesson that little Laura helped us to learn was the value of hope in daily life. Indeed, when we bring hope to a life, what we are doing in fact is bringing new life where there was only room for despair.
Hope strengthens faith and aids a believer into living a life of love and directing them toward a new possibilities. In the words of the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, hope creates in us a “passion for the possible.”
For those who live in the hope of Christ there is no stone that cannot be moved. For those who live in such a hope, there always is the possibility of receiving tomorrow the gift that Mother could not afford today.
We are told that faith is the exercise of hope and nurtures the certainty of things not yet seen (Cf. Hebrews 11:1). A life of faith and hope pushes us to look into the future.
As Matthew Miller writes in his article “A Passion for the Possible,” “Divine hope is inexplicable, shining through violence and destruction to bring blessedness. Though God may be distant and inexplicable—even dangerous—hope endures not just in the flickering flame of human survival, but as a certainty that somehow, ‘God is still marching.’”
A life lived in faith and hope does not look to the past experiences as the sure anchor holding us firm amidst the troubled waters of the present day. For those who live in faith and hope the things not yet seen are the real anchor!
In the words of Jeremiah, God tells his people that He has not run out of love. God assures them of his unfailing care, love, and concern. Do not lose hope God tells them– “the days are coming”. In other words, God’s promise to act in the future is more important than the fact that He acted in the past.
“Look at your present circumstances not under the light of what I did in the past”, seems to say the Lord. “But, instead, look your challenge under the light of what I, the One who created heaven and earth can do.”
In our second lesson we hear Paul directing his disciple Timothy to fulfill his calling under the light of the God who is to appear, the God-Who-Is-Coming.
Yet, according to Paul, hope is not for Timothy to seat by the wayside “Waiting for Godot” but to involve himself in the task of rising hope among his flock “whether the time is favorable or unfavorable.”
In today’s gospel, the most revealing teaching is the tone of hope – Prayer is not a wasted effort. Effective prayer bubbles up from hope and faith. Indeed, prayer is hope and faith voiced up in words. Such intimate relationship is made evident by our Lord’s question, “Will the Son of Man find faith on Earth?”
Finally, in the Eucharist we just don’t look back to the events of two thousand years ago. We look to the present with hope and trust for that “coming day”, for as St Paul asserts, “Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes,” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Now please notice carefully – Proclamation is not what we say during the Eucharist, but what we “do.” Whenever we eat the Bread from Heaven, and we drink the Cup of Salvation all of us – not only the Priest – we all proclaim the hope of our Lord’s return.
But such renewed hope should not be left behind in the pews as something sacred that we would wear only on Sundays while we are in church, like a Prayer Shawl.
In the midst of the many challenges that we face – or the challenges that someone else is facing, we may be tempted to call some situation either “beyond repair” or, even “impossible.”
And, perhaps without thinking too much about it, what we should be an expression of thanksgiving for a reprieve is sideline into the “Lost and Found” corner of our prayer life.
In fact, Christian hope burns with the passion of possibility. In Matthew Miller’s words, Christian hope embraces what it seems impossible. It hopes for renewed hope and discards the limits of what we believe it is just probable but unlikely.
It has been said that “Justice delayed is justice denied.” However, in the realm of God’s love, prayer delayed is hope enriched.
The widow’s from today’s gospel teaches us that Christian hope moves us to believe that under God not only the unlikely but the impossible can become a reality. Or, paraphrasing Yogi Berra, hope moves us to live believing that “It ain’t over ‘til God says it is.”
Let us pray: Eternal God of everlasting hope: Fill us with joy and peace so that we may overflow with the hope of the Living Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.