There is only one thing more terrifying than the Mass readings we have as the end of the liturgical year draws near, and that is the people who claim to be able to understand and interpret them. Every generation tends to see signs of the approaching end. Calamity follows calamity, and we are plunged further and further into gloom and despondency. Of course, that is not the case for all. Our present political difficulties seem to be encouraging some to hope for high office for themselves, and I daresay some entrepreneurs are continuing to make money out of what others experience as disasters; but for most of us, there is a recognition that we are entering into a kind of darkness where old certainties are less assured. Our interior landscape mirrors the exterior, and it can be bleak.
It is at such times that the virtue of hope is both most necessary and perhaps most difficult to practise. We try will-power, with little success; we lecture ourselves (or even worse, someone else lectures us); then we grit our teeth and just soldier on. There is something to be said for simply doing our best and accepting that it isn’t perfect. Hope is what I call a cinderella virtue. We tend not to notice it until we need it, but when we do , how hope can transform a situation!
Most of us have something we are hoping for. Some of our hopes are slightly absurd — wanting great wealth to fall into our laps, for example — others are more modest — being able to cope with illness or a practical problem, for instance — but, whatever we hope for, we know that wishing alone won’t make things happen. We have to pray and work. This morning as we listen to the words of the gospel (Mark 13.24–32), let us keep our hopes high and prepare for the end times with confidence in our Saviour Jesus Christ. There is no other way.