Ever wonder why Christians have hope? One of the great marks of Christian people is that they are a people of hope. Why should this be? Christians suffer just like everyone else. I was watching a British situation comedy many years ago in which a young newly ordained priest was paired with an elderly priest as an apprentice. Each Thursday afternoon the elderly priest was visited by a rich elderly woman dressed in furs. They would have tea and cookies and chat for about an hour. The younger priest voiced his disapproval with something like, “How can you spend so much time with a rich woman, when there are so many poor that need your attention. Did not Christ come for the poor?” The elder priest put his arm around the new priest and said something like, “Young man, always remember. The only difference between a rich person and a poor person is money.”
Rich people and poor people are more the same than they are different. None of us is ultimately in control. Money will not save you from death when it is time. All the money in the world will not allow you to relive a regrettable moment. It will not allow you to be free of terminal illness, it will not erase or change the past. Money will not free you from the suffering of broken relationships, broken heartedness, depression, anxiety, or any of the many forms of physical and mental illness.
Christians, like all people rich and poor, suffer. We all not only will die, but we will lose loved ones. But unlike other people we have hope. In the letter of St. Paul to the Romans, he writes, “We were buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life.” We also read in the Gospel of John, “In my house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?...Where I am you may also be.”
Hope is a mark of Christians because, even though we suffer like all people, we believe that death is not the end or our existence. We believe that just as Jesus rose from the dead we too, will rise to live forever in the loving presence of God. We don’t like suffering any more than anyone else, but we know that the end is just the beginning. Our sadness will lead to joy, our anxiety to peace, our earthly illness and death to everlasting life.
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you and give you his peace.”