Hope… 희망 希望.. 인생의 황혼기, 후반기 중의 한 시점을 살아가면서 이 희망이란 말은 사실 크게 . 생각보다 더 많은 뜻을 함축한 이 희망이란 말, 요즈음 들어서 조금 더 깊고 다르게 생각 하게 되었다. 희망이란 말, 그렇게 단순한 말이 아님을 깨닫게 된 것은 이번에 ‘우연히’ 읽게 된 Pope Francis (교황 프란치스코) 의 short essay: Never Lose Hope 에서였다.
우리는 ‘희망이 필요하다!’. 허.. 누가 모르나. 희망이 적거나 없으니까 문제가 아닌가? “하느님, 예수님이 우리를 ‘무조건’ 사랑하시니까 우리는 희망이 있다”.. 는 말, 솔직히 그렇게 실감을 할 수가 없을 때가 너무나 많은 우리의 삶이 아닌가? 그런 먼 미래의 희망들이 절망이나 실망 속에 빠진 우리들에게 그렇게 큰 도움이 될까?
문제의 관건은 역시 ‘믿음’이다. 그것도 무조건 적인 믿음, 바로 그것이 아닐까? 영원한 생명, 절대로 다시는 죽지 않으리라는 엄청난 약속의 희망으로부터 우리는 자기가 처한 상황을 극복할 수 있다는 것, 그것이 희망이다. 절망의 순간들 속에 우리는 희망이 있는 영원한 미래를 향해 나아간다. 그것이 믿음의 진실인 것이다. 그런데 왜 이렇게 간단히 보이는 진리가 그렇게도 ‘다루기 handle’ 가 힘든 것일까?
NEVER LOSE HOPE
Hope never disappoints. Optimism disappoints, but hope does not! We have such need, in these times which appear dark. We need hope! We feel disoriented and even rather discouraged, because we are powerless, and it seems this darkness will never end.
We must not let hope abandon us, because God, with his love, walks with us. “I hope, because God is beside me”; we can all say this. Each one of us can say: “I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me.” He walks and he holds my hand. God does not leave us to ourselves. The Lord Jesus has conquered evil and has opened the path of life for us…
Let us listen to the words of Sacred Scripture, beginning with the prophet Isaiah… the great messenger of hope.
In the second part of his book, Isaiah addresses the people with his message of comfort: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned… A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken'” (Isaiah 40:1-2, 3-5)…
The Exile was a fraught moment in the history of Israel, when the people had lost everything. The people had lost their homeland, freedom, dignity, and even trust in God. They felt abandoned and hopeless. Instead, however, there is the prophet’s appeal which reopens the heart to faith. The desert is a place in which it is difficult to live, but precisely there, one can now walk in order to return not only to the homeland, but return to God, and return to hoping and smiling. When we are in darkness, in difficulty, we do not smile, and it is precisely hope which teaches us to smile in order to find the path that leads to God. One of the first things that happens to people who distance themselves from God is that they are people who do not smile. Perhaps they can break into a loud laugh, on after another, a joke, a chuckle… but their smile is missing! Only hope brings a smile; it is the hopeful smile in the expectation of finding God.
Life is often a desert, it is difficult to walk in life, but if we trust in God, it can become beautiful and wide as a highway. Just never lose hope, just continue to believe, always, in spite of everything…. Each one knows what desert he or she is walking in – it will become a garden in bloom. Hope doe snot disappoint!
The prophet Isaiah once again helps us to open ourselves to the hope of welcoming the Good News of the coming of salvation.
Isaiah chapter 52 begins with the invitation addressed to Jerusalem to awake, shake off the dust and chains, and put on the most beautiful clothes, because the Lord has come to free his people (verses 1-3). And he adds: “[M]y people shall know my name; therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here am I” (verse 6). It is to this “here am I” said by the Lord, which sums up his firm will for salvation and closeness to us, that Jerusalem responds with a song of joy, according to the prophet’s invitation…
These are the words of faith in a Lord whose power bends down to humanity, stoops down, to offer mercy and to free man and woman from all that disfigures in them the beautiful image of God, for when we are in sin, God’s image is disfigured. The fulfillment of so much love will be the very Kingdom instituted by Jesus, that Kingdom of forgiveness and peace which we celebrate at Christmas, and which is definitively achieved at Easter…
These are, brothers and sisters, the reasons for our hope. When everything seems finished, when, faced with many negative realities, and faith becomes demanding, and there comes the temptation which says that nothing makes sense anymore, behold instead the beautiful news… God is coming to fulfill something new, to establish a kingdom of peace… Evil will not triumph forever; there is an end to suffering. Despair is defeated because God is among us.
And we too are urged to awake a little, like Jerusalem, according to the invitation of the prophet; we are called to become men and women of hope, cooperating in the coming of this Kingdom made of light and destined for all, men and women of hope…. God destroys such walls with forgiveness! And for this reason we must pray, that each day God may give us hope and give it to everyone; that hope which arises when we see God in the crib in Bethlehem. The message of the Good News entrusted to us is urgent….
It was also Isaiah who foretold the birth of the Messiah in several passages: “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14); and also: “there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). In these passages, and meaning of Christmas shines through: God fulfills the promise by becoming man; not abandoning his people, he draws near to the point of stripping himself of his divinity. In this way God shows his fidelity and inaugurates a new Kingdom which gives a new hope to mankind. And what is this hope? Eternal life.
When we speak of hope, often it refers to what is not in man’s power to realize, which is invisible. In fact, what we hope for goes beyond our strength and our perception. But the Birth of Christ, inaugurating redemption, speaks to us of a different hope, a dependable, visible, and understandable hope, because it is founded in God. He comes into the world and gives us the strength to walk with him: God walks with us in Jesus, and walking with him toward the fullness of life gives us the strength to dwell in the present in a new way, albeit arduous. Thus for a Christian, to hope means the certainty of being on a journey with Christ toward the Father who awaits us. Hope is never still; hope is always journeying, and it makes us journey. This hope, which the Child of Bethlehem gives us, offers a destination, a sure, ongoing goal, salvation of mankind, blessedness to those who trust in a merciful God. Saint Paul summarizes all this with the expression: “in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24). In other words, walking in this world, with hope, we are saved. Here we can ask ourselves the question, each one of us: Am I walking with hope, or is my interior life static, closed? Is my heart a locked drawer or a drawer o open to the hope which enables me to walk – not alone – with Jesus?….
Those who trust in their own certainties, especially material, do not await God’s salvation. Let us keep this in mind: our own assurance will not save us; the only certainty that will saves us is that of hope in God. It will save us because it is strong and enables us to journey in life with joy with the will to do good, with the will to attain eternal happiness.
Christian hope is expressed in praise and gratitude to God, who has initiated his Kingdom of love, justice, and peace… It will truly be a celebration if we welcome Jesus, the seed of hope that God sets down in the furrows of our individual and community history. Every “yes” to Jesus who comes, is a bud of hope. Let us trust in this bud of hope, in this “yes”: “Yes, Jesus, you can save me, you can save me.”