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Monday, January 5, 2009

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St. John Neumann

1 John 3:22—4:6
Psalm 2
Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

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a living hope (see 1 pt 1:3)

"On those who inhabit a land overshadowed by death, light has arisen." —Matthew 4:16

The Christmas season is a time when a greater number of people commit suicide. Many others are more discouraged than normal because of family breakdowns that intensify at Christmas. At the very time the Hope of the World has come to us at Christmas, greater numbers of people are "without hope...in the world" (Eph 2:12) because they cannot see the light.

Some difficult situations have persisted for so long that it's hard to believe the situation will ever change for the better. "Hope deferred makes the heart sick" (Prv 13:12). We wait so long that we're tempted to be sick at heart, discouraged beyond hope. "But hope is not hope if its object is seen; how is it possible for one to hope for what he sees?" (Rm 8:24)

Jesus comes this Christmas to give us a living, risen hope (1 Pt 1:3) to replace any "dead" hope, which is actually hopelessness. "Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God's love and incurring punishment" (Catechism, 2090). A living hope based on Jesus gives us strength to resist sin (1 Jn 3:3) and expect blessing, even when we are repeatedly faced with difficulties. In fact, in Jesus these constant difficulties and afflictions give us greater virtue and purity, and lead to greater hope (Rm 5:3-4) that overcomes disappointment (Rm 5:5).

"So may God, the Source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that through the power of the Holy Spirit you may have hope in abundance" (Rm 15:13).

Prayer:  Father, in You I hope; in You I live.

Promise:  "Those who keep His commandments remain in Him and He in them." —1 Jn 3:24

Praise:  St. John's hope of being ordained was deferred, but God rewarded him with a new vision and ministry for the new world.

Reference:  (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 17, 2008

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