Kristus Aman Feast Day Triduum Day 2

Kristus Aman Feast Day Triduum Day 2 - Mary, Beacon of Hope

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Feast 2

Today’s theme is; “Beacon of Hope”. But before I begin with that theme, let’s have a short recap of last night.

How many can remember what was last night’s theme? It was “Woman of Faith”

And what did we say about Faith, Mary and our life? We spoke of how “Faith” is not something we follow blindly, but consists of both the intellect and experience. Where intellect is what we know about the faith and experience, is the deepening of what we know so that in that process, our hearts are changed. We also saw how a healthy balance between the two is important. So that we do not just have a faith IN Jesus, but also the faith OF Jesus.

Secondly, we spoke on how Mary is known as a “Woman of Faith”. As a person and as the symbol of “Church”, she listened to God, which allowed her to confidently and constantly say “Yes” to God. 

Finally, as “Church” we can also be Men and Women of faith. Be it as individuals, or as a Kristus Aman community because by virtue of our baptism, we already have this faith. Tonight, as we explore and reflect on the theme: “Beacon of Hope”.

Again, I would like to look at three questions,
First: What do we understand by Hope as Christians?
Second: What was Mary’s life like to be known as a “Beacon of Hope”?
and finally: How are we as “Church”, also beacons of Hope?

What is Hope?

Ever heard someone coming to you and say “You are my last hope!” And then ask for whatever it is he or she needs? What does it mean to be someone’s Hope? Better still, what does “Hope” mean to begin with?

As Christians, “Hope” is first & foremost, not positive or wishful thinking. Neither is it something that we are uncertain of its future. Rather, it is about living with a bigger vision. It is to live in the present, with the future in mind.

The “present” here are the realities, the good & bad situations of our life. And the “future” refers to our final resting place. The promise of a union with God

This “final resting place” that we are called to look forward to however, is not one that is filled with luxuries and comforts such as spending eternity by the beach, with a mug of ice cold beer in your hands, and not need to worry about work or the stress of life ever again. Sorry to disappoint our sisters and brothers who have been thinking that this is what heaven is going to be like... It isn’t!

This beer image on a beach is only temporal. It will be washed away quickly like the beer itself. In fact such an image of “Heaven” would only leave us chasing after these very things here on earth. This “final resting place” that we are called to look forward to, is about professing together as a faith community, that “Heaven” is to receive God who is our “one and only desire”. Such an image of a final resting place then, reminds us constantly, that this hope we have, is to live in this earth, knowing that nothing else, BUT my union with God in the end is what really matters.

In other words, while I live on this earth, the temporal misfortunes such as loss of health, wealth, careers or even our loved ones, do not take away from me the joy of knowing, that I am walking towards this end: An end that I profess as my only satisfaction together with you as a community of believers each time we recite the Creed together every Sunday. For in the Creed, part of professing together what we believe about God, we also profess what we look forward to when in the last line it says:

I look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Such a view of life then, encourages me to live a moral life. Not because I fear hell as how we were once taught when young. Rather, I do right because I know that this is what it would be like to be united with God.

Jesus in His teachings, also taught us to look beyond this world. Like in the Beatitudes, or in His teachings regarding repentance. He tells us we CAN be good, because we are MADE for ultimate goodness.

Mary as “Beacon of Hope”

Now that we have established, that “Hope” is about living in the present with the future in mind, our next point of reflection is

What was Mary’s life like, to be known as a “Beacon of Hope”?

Perhaps to understand this, would be to know what is a beacon, and what does it do? According to the dictionary, a “Beacon” is: “a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, a signal or a celebration”. For the purpose of this reflection, I wld like to use the image of a “Lighthouse” since that is what often comes to mind when we think of a “Beacon”.

So where do we find lighthouses and why are they in such locations? Usually we find them either at cliffs or on rocky grounds, to warn ships of the shallow and rocky waters near it. Mary is a beacon, a sign of hope, both as a person, as well as the symbol of “Church” because throughout her life, she reflected a life that lived in the present with the future in mind. As a person, just as lighthouses are found in the midst of dangerous grounds, she is always described to be in the company of Jesus’ ministry on earth as well as with the Church, both in good as well as difficult times.

For example, when she brought Jesus into the Temple in today’s Gospel, she was a beacon of the hope promised by God to Simeon & Anna. At the wedding at Cana; Mary was a beacon of hope to the newlyweds by offering them Jesus, when the bride and groom ran out of wine. And at the foot of the Cross; Mary continued to be a beacon of hope as she held her crucified son in her arms. As the symbol Church, we see in Mary the many lives of Saints who through their own struggles, constantly showed us that they were ruled by hope. Pointing towards God with their lives by keeping focused on the Lord, even at the point of martyrdom.

This is why Mary, as a person and as Church, carries the title “Beacon of Hope”. By her life, she constantly points us to Jesus her Son and Our Lord as she lived in the present, with the future in mind.

How are we as Church, also beacons of Hope like Mary?

This is where we now come to the 3rd and final point of tonight: Us, as Church.

How are we as Church, also beacons of hope like Mary? I suppose to answer “How”, is to first recognise that by virtue of our Baptism, we are already Beacons. The problem is, we often forget this. And so we end up sending out signals we shouldn’t be sending. This reminds me of a joke I recently heard:

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy road.
Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him.
He did the right thing, stopping at the line, even though he could have beaten the red light by speeding up 
The tailgating woman was furious she honked her horn and screamed in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection,
In the process, she dropped her cell phone and makeup. 
As she was ranting, she heard a tap on her window.
She looked up and saw the face of a very serious police officer.
The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up.
He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, the policeman escorted her to the front desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. 
He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake.
You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, and cursing the guy in front of you
I noticed: the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker,
the 'Choose Life' license plate holder,
the 'Follow Me to Sunday-School' bumper sticker,
and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk.
Naturally... I assumed you had stolen the car."

Yes my sisters and brothers, we forget so easily that because of our baptism, we are already beacons to the world. So WHAT SIGNALS have we been giving the world by our lives? Perhaps a way to always be conscious of “What signals” are we sending, is to always be docile to the promptings of the HS in our life like Simeon & Anna in today’s Gospel, who became beacons themselves because they listened and followed the promptings of the Spirit.

This constant awareness and reminder, helps us to BE beacons in the world as well as ensure that we do not live a “double life”. One that is “holy” here in Church on Sundays and one totally the opposite the moment we leave this place. So now we move to the “HOW?” How do we BE Beacons?

As mentioned earlier, lighthouses are often found on rocky and dangerous grounds. I suppose to be a “Beacon of Hope” as Christians, is to be just that:
To be a lighthouse, in a world that seems to be constantly consumed by darkness,
To be out of our comfort zones, and in the midst of the inconveniences and struggles of life, for the sake of the other person who is struggling to find hope.

Jesus shows it by His life when He came among us as a man. In the midst of the messiness and sinfulness of life, He came to show us that there is still Hope. And that with God, there is no such thing as a dead end. His death and resurrection is the ultimate signpost towards hope. Weak human flesh did not prevent Him from coming among us. Pain & suffering did nt deter Him frm carrying the cross up Calvary. Death did not stop Him from completing His Father’s will. And the resurrection was no obstacle for Him to show us Hope.

How can we be in despair when our God lives beyond death?

This is why Pope Francis’ during early years as Pope, advised his fellow bishops and priests, to smell like the sheepfold, In other words, not to stand at a distance when we serve God’s people. I believe this exhortation can also be applied to the laity. We need to get our hands dirty. Rather than be caught up in this “mobile phone obsessed community”, where we are disconnected from the world around us, not even looking up to notice or talk to others.

Take the time to look through another pair of eyes and know a soul in distress... To Reach out and touch that soul. Perhaps how we can Warn, Signal and celebrate Hope for example:

Could be to WARN people against sin with compassion and charity, in a world that has turned sin into something of a myth and superstition.
To SIGNAL and bring to consciousness in people’s lives that with Hope in God, there is no such thing as a dead end as seen in the lives of Abram, Sarah, Simeon and Anna today. All of them through their faith and obedience, found life coming forth, amidst what seemed like a dead end. Abram and Sarah were way beyond childbearing age when they had Isaac. And so was Simeon and Anna who were well in their years yet they saw the promise of God fulfilled in their life time and finally, we counter hopeless situations by CELEBRATING moments where hope has won. As what Simeon and Anna did in today’s Gospel. Even in their old age, they could still recognize hope, giving them reasons to praise and proclaim God’s faithfulness. 

However, recognizing this hope is the challenge. Because without the eyes of faith, our vision is blurred and narrowed. And sometimes can even convince us that there is no hope. Even Abram in today’s 1 st reading initially sounded rather frustrated, and maybe even cynical with God when he said:

“What do you intend to give me…see you have given me no descendants”

How can we blame him when we too, are constantly hearing bad news:
Conflicts btw countries, the rise of religious extremism, the increase in divorce rates and broken relationships in families. Such news only makes us become more pessimistic and feel hopeless abt life. It’s no wonder why suicide rates are on an increase. Secular ideologies rather than faith is becoming more popular. Because to many, faith has become an irrelevant set of myths that seem to offer no “Hope”.

So how can we recognize and be this hope?

First, by remembering, that we already have Hope because of our faith. For as our 2nd reading today tells us:
It is by faith that helped Abram and Sarah to recognize, and listen to what and where God was leading them.
Secondly, we look at God’s instructions to Abram in the first reading. Just as how God took Abram out from wherever he was, for us today, it is to step out, step away from what is troubling us. So that just as God asked Abram to “look up to heaven & count the stars” we too can look towards God and keep our focus on Him. 

You might ask; “So how does that help me?” First, when we look at the vastness of the sky, we are reminded that life is bigger than our current situations. Second, for asking Abram to count the stars even though it was daytime, was God’s way of telling Abram, that although he could not visibly see the stars; what more count them, meant that God wanted Abram to put his hope in Him.

This hope we have as Christians, comes from deep down in our very being. One that comes from fundamentally “knowing”, that God loves me, and has promised me eternal life with Him. So why should I fear?

This is HOW we can recognize and be BEACONS of hope in turn. Like Mary and all the other characters in our scriptures today. Warning, signalling and celebrating this hope in the world. It is a good reminder for us today, that no matter what we may be going through in life, there is still hope. NOT a dead end because of Jesus. God is still in control although things may seem bleak at the moment. Don’t give in to despair and hopelessness. Since today we also celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, we look at how the family unit, both the physical family as well as a family of faith are beacons of hope. The family becomes a beacon of hope when everyone, be it as family members or as the body of Christ, work towards some form of resolution and reconciliation,
whenever conflicts and misunderstandings arise.

First by recognizing that there is no such thing as a perfect family.

Even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph had their fair share of problems and misunderstandings. For example, when Jesus went missing for 3 days in the Temple. Second, while it is not wrong, to have ideals, hopes and expectations of what a family should be. The important thing is, we do not make these hopes and expectations more important than our loved ones. Just as how Simeon and Anna allowed the Holy Spirit to move them, so should we also allow the Spirit of love, peace and most of all of humility, to rule and guide our families. This could sometimes mean allowing our ideals to be changed. Because these could be the very cause of the problems and misunderstandings in the first place. When we can work at these, then are we closer to living harmoniously even in the midst of problems. This is how we be beacons of hope to people. Be it as the physical family or as the body of Christ

At this Eucharist, as we give thanks for the gift of Jesus: the source of Hope and with the help of our blessed mother, our Beacon of Hope, may we recognize and remember this Good News always:
That we already have Hope in us because of Jesus. We just need to keep our focus on Him so that by our life, how we behave on a daily basis and even in the midst of our own struggles we are conscious that we are beacons of hope pointing the way of hope for others beyond the darkness and despair of life’s situations.