Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Difference Between Hope and Expectation...

...is the difference between having Faith and observing evidence. For we Foolish Christians, who insist on worshipping a Palestinian Jewish carpenter as the Son of God, that difference is the gamble of our very lives. In the turmoil of our demanding lives, however, we can easily lose sight of our Hope in the unseen God seen, in one another.

For those times, Penitens, A Penitent Blogger offers good medicine:
You and I may not be national leaders, nor may we be pregnant teenagers, but in different ways we too may have situations in our lives that seem absolutely impossible.

The message of today’s readings and of the Christmas we are about to celebrate is clear:

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

We may not always be able to see it, but “either in the depth or in the height above” God has an answer: a way to solve even the most impossible situations.

We cannot find this answer, however, by closing our minds to God, as Ahaz did.

No matter how impossible our lives may seem, we find the answer by committing ourselves to God’s will, as Mary did.
When it comes to surrendering my personal impossibilities to God, I freely confess my own curious Foolableness. I often enjoy quoting the famous maxim attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola (although didn't I hear that it was St. Augustine's or St. Patrick's?):
Pray as if everything depends on God; work as if everything depends on you.
Would that I lived it. For some reason, I find that I forget one side of this counsel or the other. As a result, I either throw myself whole-heartedly into a Quixotic attempt to conquer my Trafalgar. I depend on my own will and wisdom, rather than on God's Grace. You can imagine the results. Afterward, I find myself brooding over my failure, perhaps even lashing out in resentment, sulkiness or even despair. For whatever strange reason, it does not occur to me to involve God in my struggle.

Strange behavior for a Fool and disciple, I know. But there you have it!

If you find yourself on the strange quicksand of struggling with your life by yourself, consider Penitens wise counsel. Jesus would not have come into this world had Mary refused to consent to our Heavenly Father's will. She placed her trust in the Lord, and he brought about our salvation through her cooperation. And, would you look at that, through the seeming impossibility of a virginal conception and birth, Jesus Christ was born!

Mary is our ultimate model of discipleship. Let's follow her example. It sure beats chasing windmills!