…and see hope.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me; O LORD, be my helper. You changed my mourning into dancing; O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
Remember learning the Act of Hope? It is one of those basic prayers we all learned as children perhaps from our parents or in catechism class: O my God, relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
Today we see all of this in action. Elijah begs God for mercy upon the widow at Zarephath whose son has died.
Elijah had been a guest in her house for a long time. She and her son were dying of starvation when Elijah arrived, yet she gave him the last of what she had and from that point forward her barrel did not go empty – they were all able to eat for many days. After the famine is over her son got sick and died. After all she did she is pushed to the end of her rope and doubts.
Even though she had witnessed a miracle, and had been fed by the hand of the Lord, there is that moment of weakness and doubt. Yet God does not abandon her, He listens to Elijah’s pleading bringing her son back to life. Then she remembers her faith and the mercy of the Lord.
The lesson is that even though we lack consistent faith God does not forsake us. We always have the promise of hope.
St. Paul is recounting the fact that he had been a cruel jerk toward Christians. He tells the Galatians that at the height of his power and cruelty Jesus touched him, redeemed him, and trusted him with His message.
The lesson is that even though we sin and fall, even if we fall to the depths of depravity, God does not forsake us. He continually calls us back to His way and sends His grace to motivate us to change. We have the hope of forgiveness and redemption.
Two thousand years ago a funeral procession made its way toward the gates of Nain. The crowd was devastated: they had lost a son. His mom, a widow grieved. There was hopelessness. At the gates Jesus notices this grieving. He “was moved with pity for her,” and responded with compassion. He looked her in the eye, and says, “Do not weep.” God has “visited his people,” and was ready to save her and her son.
The lesson is that there is no hopelessness. We have tremendous hope because Jesus has the power not only to heal, but to raise. God continues to surprise us with His hope. Jesus returns to us every day with reason for hope.