It turns out there is always hope.
The country seems to be in quite a mess. It appears to be headed for impossible, socialist-style spending with a leader who thinks that’s his birthright and a people who know and just don’t care. The executive branch is attacking the First, Second and Fourteenth Amendments and if people’s paychecks weren’t being cut most folks would be just fine. The culture is not just leaving Christ behind, but seems to have him fading away in the rear-view mirror as it travels quickly who knows where. Ego rules, humility is forgotten, and as a direct result everyone is unhappy and they don’t even know why.
So there would appear to be no hope.
Sure, better leaders could be elected later, but by then the hole will be so deep even money won’t be able to buy a big enough ladder to get out of it. Sure, there could be a great, country-wide revival of morality and humility, prayer and reflection. And pigs could fly. And they could fly to the moon and eat the tasty cheese that it’s made of.
Again, no hope.
Where would you look for this hope anyway? Our political leaders who have created a system where they can legally be bought, who rarely stand up for what is right against what is popular, who have been saying they will change things for decades with no change?
Perhaps we could look to the people. After all, aren’t the people wise, and just burdened with bad leaders. Who they vote for. Over and over. The people who just voted themselves money with the re-election of the president, when we clearly don’t have it. The president who thinks passing out birth control pills for free is more important than religious freedom? Who thinks the rich are evil—as he sits atop the richest, most gluttonous, most money-grubbing entity the world has ever known? Who thinks the moral decline that has led to soulless killers can be blamed on the same weapons that protect him?
Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless.
Or maybe not.
Shift the picture here from the wide view to a particular church. An evening Mass with some young men and women being confirmed. They looked sharp, smart, respectful and truly present in the moment. The Church was the happy, peppy sort. The pastor and staff had the ceremony running like a well-oiled machine. The Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando was there, and he was smiling, too.
Bishop John Noonan spoke of the culture and the issues of the day, of the point we are at in our history, but he also spoke of hope and he spoke with joy. He spoke of asking for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for grace, for love. He joked with the pastor and the confirmation candidates, and was every bit as joyful as his surroundings. And the confirmation candidates listened, responded to the questions they were asked, and took their Bishop’s words seriously.
Logic can lead you to gloomy conclusions sometimes. The world can let you down. But somehow sitting in the flashing lights, listening to the happy songs, watching this wise leader, seeing these young men and women who will make our future, you get just a whisper that everything is possible with God.
You get a little joy, and then a lot of hope.
Time will march on, some things will be solved, others will not, but looking at the big picture too much is not the way to look at life. Look to the small miracles, listen for the subtle whispers, be proud of those you love. Be looking for hope, faith and love. They are there, you just have to look.
Maybe it’s a long shot that all of our problems will be solved, perhaps it is even a lost cause. But there’s a saint for lost causes. And somehow St. Jude was there in that Church, watching over the service, praying for those inside, and whispering to all who would listen: Have faith, enjoy your life, and trust in God—he’s dealt with lost causes plenty of times before.