This pandemic has gone viral, and now it’s time for Christian hope to go viral too.
“I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”—Romans 8:18-25
Dare we hope in a world that is suffering? It can seem impossible, even insensitive, to talk of hope when people are sick or dying, anxious or isolated, unemployed or otherwise burdened.
One of my Dominican brothers in England, with whom I once lived, died of COVID-19. I haven’t been able to regularly visit my own parents here in Sydney because their nursing home has been locked down.
So I know something of the burden this epidemic is on people.
Yet even amidst such anxiety and grief, Christian hope shines.
Christian hope is not cheerfulness or wishfulness. It’s experienced whatever our present feelings and wishes. Christian hope is not being rosy-eyed or insensitive to struggles. It’s only worth anything because it inspires confidence and perseverance amidst real challenges.
Christian hope is, rather, a key to understanding those feelings, wishes, struggles and actions, to being prepared for them, and for moving forward through them.
Another word for it might be vision. By seeing the distant horizon, hope allows us to relax, knowing what we’re going through is not the last word. Hope believes in more and better, inspires us to strive for this, and sustains us in the struggle. So Paul describes Christians not just as the faithful but also as the hopeful, those “called to hope”, “steadfast in hope”, “hoping against hope”, “cheerful hopers”.
Not gathering physically is hard for anyone, since human beings are made for relationship, for intimacy. It’s especially hard for Christians as our faith is so personal, other-focused and communal. Yet from the very heart of such suffering Christ proclaims faith, hope, and love! As we walk the Way of the Cross with Him, we too can proclaim that belief and dream and action.
COVID-19 has literally gone viral. So now must Easter hope. Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, the Physician of souls and bodies: He is our hope and with Him at our side, who can be against us?
In this time of uncertainty and flux, the love of Christ stands firm. O Lord, help us to be re-inspired by Your total gift of Yourself for us on the Cross, and be reassured by Your promise that we can share in Your Easter Resurrection.
31 Days Prayer Points
1. Pray for five people and share the Good News of Jesus with them.
2. Pray that God would use His people to reach one billion people this May.
3. Pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, both in Australia and globally.
Anthony Colin Fisher OP is an Australian prelate of the Roman Catholic Church and a friar of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans). Since 2014, he has been the ninth Catholic Archbishop of Sydney.
We invite you to join the daily 1-hour Zoom video National Prayer Call every night:
DATES: 1st– 31st May 2020
TIME: 8pm-9pm AEST
ZOOM URL LINK: https://zoom.us/j/776881184
ZOOM MEETING ID: 776881184
Every Sunday night in May, we will have an extended Zoom call from 6pm-9pm AEST.
See Zoom tutorial here.
Daily devotions brought to you by the Canberra Declaration.