Dear Friends,

Images of “hope” in our country this week….or at least in the Boston and New York area….are primarily focused on ‘that city’ in the mid-West, and the upcoming Super Bowl. They’ve been lengthy discussion in the news recently of the “power of prayer” vis-à-vis football.

Tim Tebow’s notable prayerful pose at the end of his games, and Gisele Bundchen’s much publicized email request for prayers for her quarterback husband, “Tommy,” have elevated “prayer” to new heights in the news. Undoubtedly an army of football fans are ‘bargaining’ with our Maker for favor on the field tomorrow, in the “hope” that their guys will take the day.

Interestingly, in the prayerful cases of Tim & Gisele, the prayers (at least those reported) are not focused on “victory,” but rather, in the case of Tim, in gratitude for blessings received in his life; and in the case of Gisele, on behalf of “Tommy,” that he might be ‘confident…healthy and strong’ and, well, yes, “experience victory with his team.”

I’m imagining that if you’re reading this reflection, you are more likely than not to think that in all likelihood, God won’t be watching the Super Bowl, let alone interjecting heavenly powers to massage the hope of millions of fans….but perhaps we can ‘hope’ that Tom will be “confident….healthy and strong!”

Continuing this leitmotif, but on a much deeper level, “hope” is a profound theme of our readings for this Sunday. In our first reading, Job laments that “life is a drudgery” … his “days ….come to an end without hope”…and that “he shall not see happiness again.” Surely, a dire state of mind….but haven’t we all been there at one point in our lives? Perhaps you are living Job’s experience today….or perhaps remember with a sting of anguish, or sigh of relief times, in your life when those hopeless words were in your heart as well.

Sunday’s gospel reading from Mark, on the other hand, presents a very different picture. In this story, we witness Jesus healing the sick, and driving out demons…perhaps some of the very same demons that seem to be possessing Job…and perhaps us!

Now, thankfully, there’s hope! There’s a lovely quote by Gregory of Nyssa in this week’s issue of “Living with Christ” which speaks eloquently to this theme:

“The power of God is capable of finding hope where hope no longer exists, and a way where the way is impossible.”

I’ve put that in huge font, because I find it hugely comforting. I think, also, that just as we can recall times of seeming hopelessness, we can recall experiences when hope came from ‘heaven knows where’ and turned our situation around. It may well be that those experiences were “the making of us”, and perhaps times of immense emotional and spiritual growth. While we would not choose to be in those ‘dire straits’ again, we should claim the ways in which they strengthened and formed us into who we are today.

Peter Feldmeir writing in “The Word” in this week’s America magazine writes: “Any compassion I have is directly founded on my own suffering. And surely responding to suffering binds us to one another powerfully.”

At the Spirit of Life, we come together to “be hope” for one another as we pray and witness to God’s presence in our lives. We welcome all to come and join us in this journey of living our faith in Jesus the Christ and striving to be instruments of God’s love and hope in our world.

Loving blessings….and “Go Pats!”
Jean & Ron