– Ephesians 5:14, Douay-Rheims Bible
"Waking up is unpleasant, you know. You are nice and comfortable in bed. It's irritating to be woken up. That's the reason the wise guru will not attempt to wake people up. I hope I'm going to be wise here and make no attempt whatsoever to wake you up if you are asleep. It is really none of my business, even though I say to you at times, "Wake up!" My business is to do my thing, to dance my dance. If you profit from it, fine; if you don't, too bad! As the Arabs say, "The nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens."
- Anthony De Mello, SJ
As I take a closer step into the New Year 2011, I am reminded by a Jesuit priest that I must always stay awake of God’s presence in my journey through life. I will choose to constantly cultivate and nurture a heart that knows God and a heart that is alive with love. This realization, I pray, will lead to a more total inner transformation and more hope for the coming year. From the beautiful reflections by the Catholic priest and writer, Father Henri Nouwen, I humbly quote…
We lived in a world where people don’t know much about hope. We know about wishes. The whole Christmas period is full of wishes. I wish this, or I want that. It’s very concrete: I want a toy or a car or a new job. These are all very specific requests.
But hope is precisely to say, “I don’t know how God is going to fulfil His promises, but I know that He will, and therefore I can live in the presence with the knowledge that He is with me.” I can then know and trust that the deepest desires of my being will be fulfilled. This way keeps the future very open.
Hope has nothing to do with optimism. Many people think that hope is optimism, looking at the positive side of life. But Jesus doesn’t speak like that at all. When Jesus talks about the future or the end of the world, He describes wars, people in anguish, nation rising against nation, and earthquakes.
There’s no place where Jesus says, “One day it will all be wonderful.” He talks about enormous agony, but He says, “You, you (my beloved ones) pray unceasingly that you will keep your heart focused on Me. Stand with your head erect in the presence of the Son of Man. Don’t get distracted by it all. Remain focused.” Don’t think that things will clean up, and finally there won’t be any more pain. Jesus is saying that the world is dark, and will remain dark.
If you live with hope, you can live very much in the present because you can nurture the footprints of God in your heart and life. You already have a sense of what is to come. And the whole of the spiritual life is saying that God is right with us, right now, so that we can wait for His coming, and this waiting is a waiting in hope. But because we wait with hope we know that what we are waiting for is already here. We have to nurture that.
Here and now matters because God is a God of the present. And God is God of the present because He is God of Eternity.
Hope is to open yourself up to let God do His work in you in ways that transcend your imagination. As Jesus said, “When you are young you put your own belt on and went where you wanted to go. But when you grow spiritually old, then you stretch out your hands and let others and God lead you where you rather wouldn’t go.” That’s hope, to let yourself be led to new places.”
To all fellow pilgrims, I bid you a Blessed New Year 2011 filled with New Consciousness, New Awareness…most of all a New Hope for a New Life.