"COME TO ME, ALL YOU WHO LABOUR AND ARE BURDENED, AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST." (MATTHEW 11:28)"

Your Grief will become Joy

“ABOUND IN HOPE” (Rom 15:13)

⁃ Fr Augustine Vallooran, VC

The New Year is a time of celebration. Yet when we consider what humanity has
experienced over the last few years and the grim situation in the world around us,
we could be looking to the future with a sense of uncertainty. It is not good news
that we watch every day. War spreads. Thousands are dying in different parts of
the world. Economies are crumbling. People complain of being gripped by
excessive anxiety and unreasonable fears. Even in our social circles and personal
relationships, we do not know whom to trust anymore. Despair and hopelessness
govern human vision. This however, cannot be fitting for those who are the
children of God. We are to be guided not by what we see but by what we believe.
We read the exhortation in God’s word, “We walk not by sight, but by faith” (2 Cor 5:7).


How do we understand and live out such faith. St. Paul writes, “May the God of
hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13). Here is a prayer that we may
abound in hope. The Word of God explains that such abounding hope is fueled by
the power of the Holy Spirit. What is important to note is that St. Paul is writing
not to an affluent and prosperous Church. His audience is the persecuted Church.
Inviting them to abound in hope, He speaks of power – a power not of this world,
but from God Himself. This is the Holy Spirit.


We find the ultimate assurance of hope in the words of our Lord Jesus: “Amen,
amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will
grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labour, she is in
anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she
no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into
the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your
hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (Jn 16:20-22).
The Lord presents a striking image as he speaks of a mother in birth pangs.
Undoubtedly, that pain is severe. However severe that pain be, that pain is with a
hope. Birth pangs always hold within it a great hope – the hope of a new life.
When the baby is born and the mother hears its cry, the mother forgets
everything of that extreme pain which is now replaced by supreme joy. She never

regrets the anguish she suffered. She rejoices. Jesus says it is with this same way
that we shall rejoice. The Lord is teaching us that every grief in this world is like
birth pang. A hope is written into every grief. There’s no space for despair in any
grief in this world because the Lord anoints every grief with the Holy Spirit. The
Holy Spirit will lead always to joy. This is the hope given to those in great grief.


Pope Francis speaks of the particular grace of hope that is ours through the Holy
Spirit. He teaches us that, “The Holy Spirit makes us capable of hoping. Only the
Holy Spirit will enable us to hope. Nothing around us will enable us to hope. Our
wealth will not enable us to hope. Our governments will not enable us to hope.
Bank balances will not enable us to hope. Only the Holy Spirit will enable us to
hope.” The Pope continues, “The Holy Spirit not only will enable us to hope, but
will enable us to be sowers of hope. Sow hope. Spread the oil of hope, diffuse the
perfume of hope and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness.” It is so easy
to spread the “vinegar” of despair and vengeance. When there is tension, fear
and anxiety in our hearts, it is so easy to pick up the phone and speak of how
miserable things are and express frustration at the things that are not going well.
This is exactly what the Pope is warning us from doing. The Holy Spirit who is
called the Paraclete which means Comforter or Consoler, gives us his own
mission. Those who have been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in turn
called to console and defend others. Pope Francis says, “Console and defend like
the Holy Spirit does for each of us. The Holy Spirit is “paraclete,” a provider of
consolation and a defense. We must be the same for the neediest, the discarded,
those who need it most, those who suffer most. Console and defend.” In our
circumstances we are called to be a ‘paraclete’. When your spouse shares an
anxiety, and your child complains of a situation, be ready to offer a word of
comfort. In affliction we receive encouragement and a mission. As we enter the
New Year, let us step forward as missionaries upheld by the hope that does not
disappoint.


Prayer:
Lord God, we come before you at the beginning of this year. Your word calls us
“Be still and know I am God.” Lord, we want to know you, and experience your
loving presence. In your presence is our one hope. We shall not grieve that this
world offers nothings good for you are our refuge. Holy Spirit, encourage and
comfort us. Strengthen us in hope when despair appears. Make us missionaries of
hope that we may be able to spread the glory of God here on this earth. Amen.

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