The Fragility of Hope

Is it just me, or do the news headlines of the last few weeks seem to be full of sadness? We read of natural disasters, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and wildfires, taking their toll of human life; disease spreading fear and death into countries already ravaged by war and civil unrest; the unremitting violence of terrorists and thugs; and then the high-profile deaths of some who have taken their own lives or who have been brutally battered in their homes or on our supposedly ‘safe’ streets. We read of broken promises, agreements reneged upon and political spats that may have consequences for years to come. It all seems very dark, and then we add to it the stories few others may know about: the family torn apart by alcoholism, the would-be nun living in a homeless shelter because her bishop has closed the monastery in which she used to live, the famous person close to despair. It is difficult, in such circumstance, to keep our hope up, especially if we think of hope as something that innoculates us against doubt or fear. Depression, anxiety, even a fleeting feeling of being down in the dumps, are realities we have to face.

This morning I found my own personal encouragement in something that may strike others as strange. In today’s gospel (Mark 3. 20-35) we read that those hostile to Jesus said, ‘Beelzebul is in him!’ Think about that for a moment. It is an utter travesty of the truth, but Jesus had to live with it. The argument he uses to refute the scribes’ allegation impresses us, because we know the truth of the matter, but I wouldn’t mind betting that at the time, both to him and his hearers, it looked a little weak. There was no act of power to substantiate what he said. We do not often think of Jesus as needing hope.* Trust in the Father, yes, but hope, no. I think, however, that this is an instance of Jesus’ living by hope, uncertain of the outcome, but continuing nonetheless. It is a variant of what I have called elsewhere ‘just plodding on’. In our weakest moments, when everything seems black, that is all we can do. We cannot summon up a feeling of faith we do not have; we just have to go on.

Please pray today for those who feel they cannot go on; and give thanks for those whose humanity enables them to reach out to others in their need and give them comfot.

* I speak of Jesus in his humanity, not as he was and is as the Second Person of the Trinity.


6 thoughts on “The Fragility of Hope”

  1. I put a request in on Stanbrook Abbey’s prayer pages yesterday which went something like this: For those who need prayer, especially those who are sick, or don’t know that they need prayers, or who to ask to pray for them.

    I know that one time I was in hospital, I had my prayer book with me, but was too weak or simply unable to pray. Saddest to me though, are those who are in desperate need, but have no one thinking or praying for them.

  2. It’s a wonderful comfort to know, and to share with others, how we have struggled out of the abyss, knowing that Jesus is guiding us and that God is in charge. Thank you for praying for us. Amen. Amen.

  3. I too am very grateful for the prayers of many people, known and unknown to us, who prayed with and for us during various hospitalisations.

    Thank you, Dame Catherine, for reminding me that monastic communities are praying for us whether or not we have asked for prayers.



  4. I pray and hope that you, dear Sister Catherine, are not losing hope in your battle against sarcoma. The Lord has sent you to us for a purpose – to bring guidance and ministry to us through the electronic medium. I have learnt so much about humility, selflessness and caring for others from you over the last three years. As l state on my Twitter page, God does not cause the world’s problems, of which there are many both natural and man-made, but He does have many of the answers. God bless and care for you and bring you relief from your illness and the treatment. Peace and love be with you xx.

    • No, I have my ‘down’ days, of course, but this post and a couple of others are the result of some of the prayer requests and emails we have received recently. Thank you for your encouragement.bMay God bless you!

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