Hope, Despair and now, Doubt. Humanity, Suffering and Violence. These are prominent words that express some powerful emotions as we continue our Lenten journey. They are words that we process in and display in our sanctuary and on the triangular walls that flank our sanctuary. They carry with them some heavy and negative connotations. We must acknowledge that Doubt, Despair, Suffering and Violence exist in our world, not only in neighborhoods where the two programs that we are focused on supporting this Lent exist, but as was evident with the high school shooting in Florida last week, in communities a lot like ours as well.
As our pre-Mass ritual states, “We are in this together,” and the THIS is Hope in the midst of the challenges that the above words give us. Because it is a virtue and a trait, it is sometimes difficult to identify where hope comes from. Why do some people have more of it, and some people seriously lack it? Why do we have more of it at certain times in our lives, and not so much at other times? I invite you to spend some time this week with the thoughts about Hope shared by Pope Francis on the cover of this bulletin.
The word that will be processed in and displayed near our ambo this week is Doubt, and our scripture readings have a lot to say about it. Listen attentively to the first reading this weekend from Genesis in which Abraham seems to have absolutely no doubt in God’s plan. He and Sarah had tremendous difficulty conceiving a child (a challenge that many of you also know) and were at the point where having their own child was all but forgotten. Remember how the story goes on and they finally conceive a miracle child, Isaac. Our first reading this weekend then tells us that God asks Abraham to sacrifice this child that they had waited so long for, a cruel request that seems even more cruel in light of their struggles to have him in the first place. This week’s passage begins with, “God put Abraham to the test.” We also hear that, at the last second, God rescinds the command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This also gives us a hint that God would eventually sacrifice His only son, Jesus. Let us be inspired by Abraham, a real sign of Hope against Doubt.
In our second reading, which we will hear proclaimed by Elijah, a ten year old who benefits from programming at The Peace Corner on Chicago’ s west side, one of the programs that we are supporting this Lent. He proclaims that St. Paul tells us, “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” If we find ourselves with any doubt, may these words be a source of Hope for us.
In our Gospel from Mark this week we hear the story of the Transfiguration. Like any really dramatic story, particularly those in which we hear the very voice of God, we can be even more inspired to believe and have hope. Let’s face it, we all hear God’s voice more clearly and directly at times. When you have a moment of clarity, conviction or confidence about a direction, activity or commitment, don’t you also naturally feel less doubt and more hopeful? Conversely, sometimes we feel and experience doubt. Those are moments when we have to listen to the voice of God, in prayer and through life’s events, even more .
In the words of our Pope Francis, the Transfiguration means ‘Listen to Jesus and follow him.’ Let us continue to live out our Ash Wednesday commitment to be instruments of hope for our world. Let us continue to listen to the unfolding story of our Lenten Social Justice project. Let us listen and follow peaceful pathways to violence prevention.
I hope that you share my pride in Holy Family stepping up to be the first parish to enter into a partnership with Cardinal Cupich in this important Violence Prevention Initiative. The Cardinal will be here to share even more of the story and the overall initiative when he presides at the 9:00am Mass on Sunday, March 11.
I want to thank Phil Andrew for sharing a bit about his role and his conviction with us as the Cardinal’s delegate for the Violence Prevention Initiative during last weekend’s 9:00 and 11:00am Masses.
Please join me in thanking this year’s Gala chairs Stephanie Andre-Ouellette, Helen Kalantzis and Kathy Marousis and all who worked so hard to make the event such an expression of who we are and the vibrant mission that we at Holy Family Catholic Community continue to carry out. Thanks to all who attended and supported the Gala in many ways. Your generosity enables us to thrive!