Reflection: Called to be a people of hope

By Father Chris Thomas

How many times have you, like me, begun a new year with resolutions to change in some way? I don’t doubt that, after a very short time, we have found ourselves caught up in our old habits and negative ways of doing things. I hit 60 this year and as I grow older, I wonder whether real change and transformation will ever happen within me. Or will I always live a life of quiet resignation saying things like, ‘This is the way I am’ or ‘I’m only human’?

Yet I believe profoundly in the Gospel call to transformation, to deep inner change that prepares us for eternity and sets us free from the mundane, moribund existence that so many call ‘living’. Central to our Christian faith is that we, in Christ, can become a new creation. That belief is rooted in the belief that ‘nothing is impossible with God’. So I can say, with confidence, that real change is not easy, but it is possible because of Christ.

Our resolutions at New Year are usually that we wish we could be brighter, healthier, better-looking, younger, richer, more talented, more respected, more loved, in a better job, in a better marriage, in another country. These wishes are not grounded in anything and most of the time, go nowhere and so they disappear like smoke in the air!

Hope is different. Unlike wishing, hope is grounded in a promise. We hope that life will be different, that we can become more loving, compassionate and forgiving. We hope that the world can become a different place. We hope that we might live with confidence in eternity, freed from the worry and concerns that grind us down and which always pass away. We hope in Christ and He has promised that we can become a new creation.

Hope does not leave us powerless. Every hope in Christ can become a possibility, a reality. Hope promises us that mountains will move, but it doesn’t promise that they will move quickly! What hope promises us will come to pass; real change will take place, but only if we are patient and faithful enough to persevere. All things, we are assured by faith, come to those who believe enough and who are faithful enough. Given this, let us do more hoping this year, and maybe a little less wishing and dreaming.