Our Reason for Hope

 

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation

to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

1 Peter 3:15

 

            About four years ago I received the great blessing of being asked to join one of our Jesu Caritas Groups.  Jesu Caritas is a priest support group usually made up of five to seven members and meeting once a month for prayer, reflection on the month and mutual support.  Recently, one of the priests spoke about how sometime our spiritual lives are broken, but most times our spiritual lives are just messy.   Sometimes, we feel that we are broken.  And we are correct when those thoughts result from our making conscience choices to reject God in the most serious ways.  When we are in serious sin, we are broken.  But we are wrong if we ever feel that our relationship to God is irreparable.  That is not so.  Jesus redeemed a broken mankind and healed us.

 

            Most of the time, we are not broken.  We are just messy.  Quite often we go about things in the wrong way.  Quite often we approach God on our terms instead of his.  Quite often we zig-zag in our approach to our final union with Him.  Sometimes we think we are wonderful Christians, fantastic Catholics, when actually we are quite distorted.  God sees us as we are, sees our messy spirituality, and still loves us.

 

            I wonder if you remember the movie and musical,  The Music Man.  For some of our younger people, the musical takes place in rural America, a certain River City exactly, in the last decades of the nineteenth century.  The musical begins with a group of salesmen on a train lamenting the success of a scam artist, a so-called Professor Harold Hill.  Hill is a salesman who comes into a town and convinces the people that they have a problem.  Their children are on the verge of moral corruption.  A pool hall has been constructed, and the kids are learning bad habits.  His normal approach is to suggest a healthy release for the kids, a band.  He supplies the uniforms, music and instruments and offers to teach music to the kids, but normally, after he gets their money, he heads out of town.  The only thing is that Harold Hill falls in love with the town librarian, a certain Marian.  So now he’s stuck with teaching the kids, even though he really knows little about music.  Anyway, in the final scene, the children give their first performance for their parents.  They are horrible.  It is a complete disaster, a cacophony.  But their parents think they are wonderful.  To their parents they are a fantastic marching band playing Seventy-six trombones.  When you watch the movie, you first laugh at the band and the parents, then you realize that they are all trying their best.

 

            God is like the people in the vast audiences that the Music Man drew on Broadway, in the movies with the great Robert Preston, and in its many revivals.  God hears the cacophony, but also sees the determined effort. The results may be messy, but the Loving Father joins the parents and saying, “Wasn’t that just wonderful.”

 

            So your marriage and family did not turn out as you wished?  So your career took a detour or two or seven?  So we have made bad choices in the past that have left their impact on our lives now.  We may think we are broken, but we aren’t broken.  We are just messy.  We may not be as grand as the ideal, but when we play the spiritual instruments of our lives, God hears Seventy-six trombones, not a cacophony.

 

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation

to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.

 

            Those words come from the First Letter of Peter, our second reading.  Peter was a buffoon who tried to walk out on water to Jesus but nearly drowned because he lost faith. Peter was a braggart who denied the Lord three times.  But Peter wanted to better.  He wanted to serve Jesus.  Eventually, through God’s grace, he conquered his fears, he controlled his emotions, he became the first Vicar of Christ. 

 

            We have a reason for hope.  That reason is Jesus Christ.  He loves us more than we can possibly imagine, each of us.  He is not concerned with whether we produce the perfect result.  He is overjoyed that we are trying to produce the perfect result.  You and I have to have enough humility to have a good laugh at ourselves every now and then.  We have to trust in God to help us clean up the mess of our lives.

 

            No matter what happened in the past. No matter what crises we are dealing with right now.  No matter what we might face in the future, we have reason for hope. And if anyone comes to us and says, “How can you be so optimistic?”  We respond, “The Love of the Lord is real for us.  May his love also be real for you.”

 

Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.

Always be ready to give an explanation

to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.