Today’s passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is replete with lines that could stand alone as mantras, as prayers. Being confronted with so many different gifts, so many different admonitions, so many different virtues, and so many different sentiments, reminds me of being at a smorgasbord with only a saucer. However, if I had to choose one of the many admirable statements, the one that stands out for me personally is verse twelve: “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.”
As most of you know, in my role as administrator of CUSA, an apostolate of persons with chronic illness or disability, I am blessed to accompany more than two hundred people, each of whom is dealing with some form of illness or limitation in everyday life. For some it is a matter of a physical limitation that makes it impossible for them to live independently and who must struggle with the state when money for caregivers is being reduced. For others it is a matter of dealing with a birth injury or defect that limits them either mentally or physically. There are others who struggle with mental illnesses of many different kinds, such as depression, compulsive obsession, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar syndrome.
I have frequently asked the members of CUSA what scripture verse is their favorite. As you might imagine, there are many to choose from and the selections are quite diverse. As I was praying with today’s passage, I was struck by the fact that the underlying virtue for people whose lives are a daily struggle is hope – hope that helps one endure whatever trial or cross is theirs.
The Paschal Mystery which we celebrate here every morning speaks to us of God’s love for us and offers us hope because it points us toward a time when we will sit at another banquet where there will be no more suffering, no more affliction, no more struggle, and no more sorrow. Jesus is our hope because Jesus is our savior. For those of us who eat his body and drink his blood are promised a life that will never end.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator