October 27, 2015

"Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. 
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance."
Romans 8:18-25

Today's reading speaks to a type of longing that we've heard described in a number of ways: "a God-shaped hole in our hearts," our hearts being "restless until they rest in you," and so on. In particular it speaks of a hope that will necessarily often feel very far from where we are right now. We would not need to wait "with endurance" if clinging to such a hope were simple. It takes work, and on some days it will take more work than on others.

This is why hope and faith are so inextricably linked. We hope for what we do not see, and faith is "the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Again with the not seeing! And yet I cannot help but pray the prayer of Bartimaeus on Sunday, "Master, I want to see" (Mark 10:51). I want to see a world on fire for Jesus... I want to see my body and mind and soul completely healed... I want to see things as You do and finally understand what it's all about.

And so we gradually come to realize that living in the Christian mystery is going to involve a lot of longing, a lot of wishing to see, and, most of the time, a lot of not seeing yet. But not seeing does not mean living in the dark. God, in His love and in His understanding of our littleness, gives us our small tasks to keep working on and our daily bread to keep us going. He does not abandon us but He also keeps us from falling into complacency by not giving us everything we need to make us content in this life. The first line of the reading above is a promise to those of us who allow ourselves to become disciples of hope, and it is the key to getting through the toughest, longest days.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!

Frassati NY