Where Is Our Hope?
My head and heart are heavy as I sit down to write this reflection. In the past week, there has been another mass shooting carried out by a white supremacist; a 16-year-old was shot dead at the ‘The Bean’ in Chicago’s downtown; the war continues to rage in Ukraine, and drought and famine have gripped Somalia. And here I am, in my comfortable apartment on Chicago’s South Side, wondering when our world will reach its breaking point. When is enough enough? When will we lay down our guns, our hatred for the other, and love one another as God has loved us?
It is hard to look around at these events and hold out hope. It is difficult to live day-to-day amid a world that seems to be free-falling into chaos. But today's readings offer us a new lens with which to view our reality and uncertainty. A lens that perhaps gives us a sense of hope for a world in desperate need. In Revelation, God gives John a vision of the holy city of Jerusalem that stands in juxtaposition to his reality. According to scholars, Revelation was written around 95-96 AD, about 25 years after the fall of Jerusalem. The city was still recovering from the destruction and trying to regain stability. There was discord within the city among the newly converted Jews and the Gentile Christians. In John's vision, he sees a new reality through God’s eyes: there is no temple in the city, for "its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” And there was “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light...” John’s vision depicts a world where there are no barriers, where God’s love and light flood the land, and all are united in God.
We know well that John's vision has yet to come to fruition. We are still struggling to bring forth a world where all are loved and protected. But we know that we are not alone in our efforts. In the gospel today, we hear Jesus promise to send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us always and give us peace that the world cannot give. I imagine that upon hearing this, the disciples must’ve been afraid and confused by Jesus’ words, wondering what their future would hold. Yet even after Jesus was no longer physically with them, they moved forward in hope, spreading the Good News of Christ.
Living in hope does not mean denying our reality. It does not mean that we sit back and wait for God to step in and fix everything with the flick of a magic wand. Our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to take seriously the work of justice, hope for a future we cannot yet see, and challenge the systems that perpetuate the cycles of violence. To bring about God's vision for the world, we trust in the work of the Holy Spirit to move hearts and minds and inspire us to work on behalf of peace.