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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 12, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala
OPINIONS

Rock & Refuge

Always strengthening our hope

This is a crucial virtue to have. Given our condition of pilgrim here on earth, we should make sure that we are always on the move toward our ultimate, spiritual and supernatural goal.

We should not get distracted or entangled by our earthly affairs, whether good or bad, for as the Letter to Hebrews would put it: “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (13,14) Thus, we have to strengthen our hope always.

Hope is first of all not just a virtue that we produce, cultivate or keep ourselves. It is first of all a gift of God, given to us in abundance. It is the gift of Christ himself who, by the Holy Spirit, is made present in us through his words, his sacraments, his Church. All we have to do is to correspond to this wonderful reality as vigorously as possible.

That is why we need to be most mindful of the truths of our faith, giving time to meditate on them and to make them sink in our very consciousness. We have to be wary of our tendency to be carried away by our earthly concerns, no matter how legitimate they are. For again, as the gospel would say, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk 8,36)

It's important that just like in that management style called MBO (Management by objective), we have to have a clear vision of our ultimate goal and make it the strongest desire of our life, so that we don't get entangled with the ups and downs and the drama of life.

This, of course, will require some significant effort, because especially nowadays people are getting too hooked in their earthly, temporal affairs. Some of them who are considered more in the successful side, get too immersed in them that they forget their spiritual and supernatural goal. Others, who are more in the losing side, eventually fall into discouragement and despair. They end up finding no meaning in life.

For example, we now have many young people, the so-called successful millennials, who paint themselves as innovators, tech savvy, rising business titans, etc., but who miserably fail in their spiritual and moral life. They can cover their failings, but for sure, only for a while. The true character will show sooner or later.

With this gift and virtue of hope, we are always given a sense of direction. Our goal is made clear. All the means are made available. Every event, whether humanly good or bad, always has a meaning and can be made use of to attain our eternal goal.

While it's true that we are completely responsible for our life, we should not forget that life has more things to give us than what we can handle. Hope gives us that impetus to let things be and let go of certain things, abandoning ourselves in the hands of God who is in control of everything, just like Christ abandoned himself to the will of his Father and submitted himself to his own death on the cross.

Hope gives one the conviction that God has the last word, goodness has the last say. It reassures everyone that it is all worthwhile to suffer a little or a lot in life as long as one does not lose sight of his eternal goal.

Hope gives one a deep sense of peace and joy, and an abiding sense of confidence, regardless of how things play out in one's life, since life always has more to offer than what we can expect or handle.

Yes, indeed! And they come in all shapes and sizes, likeable and hateful. There are pleasant surprises and moments of horrible frustrations.

Life can't be restricted simply by our senses and preferences, nor by our knowledge and wisdom. It gives us a lot more. There are things that simply are beyond our control. We have to learn to face life as it unravels by itself.

When we seem to be overwhelmed by trials, challenges, tasks, pressures that can come anytime anywhere, I believe the attitude to have and the reaction to make is to be calm, pray hard, and while we do all we can, we have to learn to live a certain sense of abandonment in the hands of God.

In those situations, I believe we just have to allow ourselves to play in God's game plan, in his abiding providence whose designs are beyond reckoning, and are always effective. This is what hope is all about!*

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