Seasonal Reflections:Sr. Maureen Murphy
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12)
These words which come from St Paul writing to the Romans seem like a good theme for our forthcoming celebration of the Season of Advent. For those of us living in the Northern hemisphere the days are shorter and there are more hours of darkness than light. All over the world there are countries at war or suffering political upheaval or natural disasters, people displaced, bereaved, traumatised and injured so there is much tribulation. Then in the midst of the darkness and suffering we find the light which comes from the Christ child born in poverty to simple people of faith and hope and born again in our hearts.
At the present time the Diocese of Salford is following a programme called “Hope in the Future” which seeks to make us all aware of our call to evangelise, to be missionary disciples. Real hope always has to be about something ahead of us, because, as Pope Francis said (29th Oct 2013) “Hope never lets us down because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Hope is not optimism, not the ability to look at things with good cheer. Hope is a virtue of an ardent expectation towards the revelation of the Son of God. It is not an illusion.”
In her book Longing for God, which I re-read every Advent, Maria Boulding says “ Our busy, noisy world is starved of hope. So many hopes disappoint and people are afraid of being disappointed again. It is when we reach the brink of despair that hope grounded in God has a chance, because there is nothing else left.”
Each day on our televisions and computers and in our newspapers we see pictures of migrants, people in often very desperate situations and of them Pope Francis has written
“Hope is the thrust in the heart of the one who sets out leaving home, land and sometimes family to seek a better life, more fitting, for himself and his loved ones.” We might say “What can I do except pray for them?” But the Pope continues “Hope is also the thrust in the heart of one who receives, the desire to encounter another, to get to know one another, to dialogue. Hope is the thrust to share the journey because the journey is done in two, those who come to our land and we who go out to their hearts, to understand them, their culture and their language.”
During Advent as we prepare to welcome Christ at Christmas most of us probably try to give some extra time to prayer and we are told “ Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction. Prayers brings you to hope and when things become dark, with more prayer, there will be more hope” (Pope Francis 18/1/17)
There are role models to encourage us because as we read in Romans Paul describes Abraham “In hope he believed against hope that he should become the Father of many nations” Hope is what Mary,Mother of God, sheltered in her heart during the darkest time of her life from Good Friday afternoon to Easter Sunday morning.
By the time you read this I will be in Kenya. Sisters Emily and Beverlyne will have made their First Profession and Sister Christabel her Perpetual Profession. Sister Margaret Nyabongoye will have celebrated her Silver Jubilee. These Sisters are the concrete signs which God gives us of hope for our future. Let us thank him for them and keep the Sisters in our prayers.
This Advent, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Love and prayers,
Sister Maureen Murphy, FMSJ