“A New Hope”, By Mary Molloy, Fiat Ventures

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Have you ever written a text to that really cute guy or girl you were interested in? Then you saw the three dots appear? That feeling of wanting to throw up, cry, scream and laugh all at once as you wait to see what they will say to you? Or how about that feeling when you are waiting on the result of a test, an audition or competition?

I know that I have found myself in each of these situations numerous times! The waiting for the news is so incredibly hard. It feels like time stands still and my ability to focus on anything else is extremely limited if not completely gone. It is agony! Like that song from Into the Woods sung by the Princes…. AGONY! It is all worth it though when that long awaited good news arrives! When that A+ you pulled all those all-nighters for shows up…when that cute guy says yes to dinner… your heart explodes with joy! Because the answer to the agony of our heart has arrived.

I seem to forget that good results can come — I could get 99 days of good news with 1 day of bad news and focus on that 1 piece of bad news. Because of this, we might even try not to get our hopes up for things, because then we can’t be disappointed when things don’t pan out the way we wanted.

As I read the first reading for this Sunday, I was struck by the part of the reading where Ezra is talking to the people

“Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep”— for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our LORD. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!”

I know for myself I often forget that I always have a reason to rejoice. Over the past couple of years many hard things have happened and so much hope has felt like it has been lost for good. When I read this verse I thought, “Well, how can I rejoice when I feel sad and overwhelmed?”
Hope is more than just wishful thinking — hope is the abiding confidence that God will never leave or abandon us. Jesus proclaims this about himself in the Gospel today:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

This isn’t a “fake” rejoicing in the Lord amidst times of weeping, that ignores the sadness and agony in our hearts, but it’s rejoicing in a deep and profound way of knowing that the God, who is all loving, is with me forever and that He has chosen me to be His own. I belong to him whom Heaven and Earth cannot contain.

There is a book called Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Victor talks about how he witnessed true despair but also hope in the Nazi concentration camps. He notices that hope was more than just the wishful thinking of escaping the camp someday but rather that true hope comes from a deep faith and trust that God is with us and that we are his. Victor was struck by those within the camp who maintained hope and peace. Those people were those who had this hope and confidence that God was with them and had chosen them. People like St. Maximilian Kolbe who had such confidence in God that he voluntarily laid down his life for another with such great peace and hope that even the cruel Nazi guards were struck to their core.

This is how we can rejoice — that God, the only constant in this whole entire universe, loves me and has chosen me to be his own. I am destined for eternal life with him — no matter how poor, miserable or sick I am, he has come to anoint, heal and restore me.

Wherever you find yourself today, I encourage you to take a moment to sit with this Sunday’s readings. Let the joy of that good news wash over you like that long awaited text message!

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