Hope, the Anchor of our Souls

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain.” (Hebrews 6:19)

Once upon a time, four candles slowly burned. The ambience was so soft, one could almost hear them talking. The first candle said: “I am Peace. The world is so full of anger and fighting. Nobody can keep me lit.” Then the flame of peace went out completely. The second candle said: “I am Faith. I am no longer indispensable. It doesn’t make sense that I stay lit another moment.” Just then a breeze softly blew Faith’s flame. Sadly, the third candle began to speak: “I am love. People don’t understand my importance so they simply put me aside. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.” And waiting no longer, Love’s flame went out.

Suddenly a child entered the room and saw the three unlit candles. “Why aren’t you burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end.” Saying this, the child began to cry. Then the fourth candle answered: “Don’t be afraid. I am Hope. While I am still burning we can re-light the other candles.”

Hope, as the book of Hebrews tells us today, is the strong anchor of our soul. In this same reading, we are reminded of Abraham our father in Faith. Do you recall how God promised him and “failed” for twenty-five years? Hope is the ability to tell yourself that even if you don’t have it all today, tomorrow will be better. It is the willingness to wait even when you do not know when your waiting will end. It is the courage to keep dropping on your knees again and again to pray even if all you hear is silence.

In our Gospel passage, it is rather unfortunate that the same Jesus who multiplied five loaves and two fish for five thousand men would afford to go hungry on a Sabbath day. To fill their stomachs, Jesus and his disciples, while walking through a farm, plucked and ate grains directly from the farm. This teaches us that life can full of ups and downs. Sometimes God provides abundance. Sometimes, through hardship, God teaches us providence. Never lose hope; keep praying!

Miracles are good faith boosters but they are not always needed. Jesus did not need to work a miracle to eat when he was right in the middle of a farm full of grains. You might be praying for a miracle whereas God is waiting for you to just pluck and eat. Look around you. What do you see? What if you are right in the middle of a miracle already!

While Jesus and his disciples were eating, some Pharisees said: “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” The Pharisees never liked Jesus but they kept following him everywhere. Some people are like ‘monitoring spirits’; they are jealous of you but they never stop talking about you, they are the first to know what is happening in your life, they have ears waiting to hear bad news so they can broadcast and if something good comes your way, they are the first to criticise and point out faults.

We all have such Pharisees in our lives but the best attitude towards such persons is the attitude of Jesus. Jesus did not harbour hatred towards them. Every encounter with His enemies became an opportunity for Jesus to teach and reveal His Divine identity.

“The Sabbath was made for man. Man was not made for the Sabbath.” What a profound revelation! All of God’s laws are made for our wellbeing and growth not merely to punish us.

“The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” If only the Pharisees knew that Jesus is God they would not care so much about the Sabbath rule but go down immediately on their knees to worship Jesus. At times, what we consider as a ‘hopeless situation’ may just be our inability to see the big picture just as the Pharisees could not see God present in the person of Jesus.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you knew what it means to be hungry. Into your hands, I surrender all my cares, fears and worries. May my problems never become greater than the faith and hope I have in you. Amen.

Bible Study: Hebrews 6:10-20, Psalm 111, and Mark 2:23-28).

Fr. Abu

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