Julie Vickery ponders two Gospel passages in which Jesus shows us why we must place our hope in God.
Throughout Israel's ancient history, God repeatedly called on His people to put their hope in Him, rather than in worldly powers that would inevitably lead to death and destruction. A sign of good things to come often accompanied the words that the Lord spoke through the prophets — the King of Judah, for instance, was sent a sign through Isaiah, the prophet: "the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel [God with us]" (Isaiah 7: 10-17). Ahaz dismissed God's message of hope as meaningless and chose to ally himself with his neighbors. It was a disastrous choice for Ahaz and the Kingdom of Judah, but for Christianity, this ancient sign is evidence of God's plan of salvation that was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary and her divine Son (1:18). This reflection focuses on two Gospel passages in which Jesus gives us signs of hope that we can extract from His life, passion and death and apply to our own lives — that we may endure our trials and tribulations in a loving relationship with Christ, obtained through Mary.
Our first passage focuses on a lesson taken from the Sermon on the Mount. In this brief teaching, Jesus tells us that we must not be anxious about life — what we will eat and how we will clothe ourselves. Rather we should look to nature and see the way our heavenly Father provides for the "birds in the sky" and the flowers of the field; "Look at the birds," the Lord tells us, "They do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your Father feeds them" (Matthew 6:26). Jesus then tells us to look and see how wild flowers grow and learn from them: "'They do not work or spin ... [But] not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them'" (28-29).
Jesus concludes His lesson telling us, "'Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself" (34). This is easier said than done, I know. But it has been my experience—and that of others who have shared their sorrows—that painful times often turn out to be blessings we only recognize with time.
The focus of our next Gospel passage are the words Jesus spoke from the Cross, concerning His Mother: "When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son. Then he said to the disciple, "'Behold your mother" (John 19:26-27). From that moment on, Mary became our spiritual Mother, our Model of perfect womanhood and our Mediatrix. She is "our life, our sweetness and our hope," as we attest whenever we recite the Salve Regina.
Indeed, Mary has been the hope of countless souls who have sought her help since the early days of the nascent Church. When her life in this world came to an end, she was assumed into heaven, where she was thrice crowned: as the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit; no other human being has better connections to God than Mary!
As the Queen Mother of our Divine King, she is ever ready to intercede for us—just as she did, on earth, for the wedding couple at Cana (John 2:1-11). Her words to the servants, "Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you," teaches us what we must do to be true followers of Christ.
As Catholic women we are called to imitate Mary by bearing Christ to everyone, in every situation. Over the years, I've heard more than a few people say that they found God and entered the Catholic Church later in life because they'd come from a difficult family situation and had found a true mother figure in the home of a Catholic friend — a place they'd always remembered because they had found love there and hope for better days to come.
We are blessed in the Church to have many spiritual aids to help us through our trials. Here are five you may find helpful:
- Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary
- Keep a corner in your home where you can sit in stillness with God
- Make frequent Spiritual Communions
- Take time to enjoy nature; facilitate God's care of the birds with a family project that might include birdbaths and houses
- Visit or call someone who may be lonely
Takeaway: Put into practice a spiritual aid that will help you put your hope in God rather than in worldly powers.
Copyright 2020 Julie Vickery
Images (top to bottom): Copyright 2020 Julie Vickery, all rights reserved; Frank McKenna (2016), Unsplash; St. Bernard Church (Burkettsville, OH) clerestory window via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
About the Author
Julie Vickery is a wife and mother of two grown children. She has a Master of Arts degree in Sacred Theology and enjoys continuing her studies online. Other favorite pastimes include reading and writing nonfiction, gardening, walking and taking part in local and online inter-faith discussion groups.