The Reason for Our Hope

May 14, 2023; 1 Peter 3:15-18; 6th Sunday of Easter

St. Augustine is one of the great theologians of our Catholic tradition. He was always trying to understand God more deeply and to appreciate God’s power more fully. There is a story about Augustine that one day he was walking along the beach, and ahead of him he saw a young boy about 8 years old who was playing in the sand. The boy had dug a hole in the sand and now was running to the water with a seashell that he filled with water, carried the water back to the hole, and poured it in. He repeated this action over and over. When Augustine reached the boy, he said, “My child, what are you trying to do?” The boy said, “I am taking all the water of the ocean and pouring it into this hole.” Augustine laughed. “That’s impossible,” he said, “There is too much water in the ocean.” “No, no,” the boy said, “I am getting better at it, and soon I will be able to run back and forth much more quickly.” “It’s still impossible,” said Augustine. “You cannot empty all the water of the ocean into that hole.” With those words the boy was transformed into an angelic messenger and said to Augustine, “It would be easier for a boy to empty the ocean with a seashell than for you to adequately understand the greatness and the power of God.”

This story is meant to remind us that God is bigger than us and greater than us. As hard as we might try, we will never adequately be able to understand what God has the power to do. This is a reason for hope. Today’s second reading from First Peter says, “Always be ready to offer an explanation for a reason for your hope.” What is the explanation for our hope? Nothing short than the greatness of God. Regardless of what dire or difficult situation we may be in, God is greater than us, and God has the power to act in ways that we cannot even begin to imagine.

We look at the violence of the world, the war in Ukraine, shootings in our cities, and we shake our heads and say, “This hopeless. We will never be able to control the violence that surrounds us.” But we remain people of hope because God is greater than us. God sees things we do not see. God can make moves we cannot make. And God is committed to eliminating the violence of our world.

We look at the anger and the partisan thinking that characterizes our politics today: So many opinions dead set against one another. So little honesty and respect for one another. So few attempts to find common ground for the common good. We say, “This is hopeless. We will never be able to govern our country in a way that is good for all.” But we remain people of hope because God is greater than us. God can open doors that we cannot open. God can present new possibilities. And God is committed to bringing our country together.

We look at issues in our family: jealousy, resentment, divisiveness. Maybe we have tried time and again to heal those wounds without success. And we say, “I give up. There is no way that my family will ever be united.” But we remain people of hope because our God is greater than us. God can change hearts and move people to think again. And our God is committed to bring reconciliation to our families.

No matter how difficult or divisive our situation may be, the power of God is greater than the forces that attack us. Therefore, we remain people of hope. When we cannot see a way forward, God has a way forward and is already working to bring us to salvation.

1 thought on “The Reason for Our Hope”

  1. I am experiencing the grief of a loss. Yet my hope is in the Everlasting Love I know comes from Emmanuel With Us. The Spirit of Love is opening me to new possibilities, a new dimension of my spiritual life is the transformation I’m “seeing” with new eyes. God is indeed greater than my sorrow, and yet this sorrow is guiding me to a new way of life. Love and the need to love is the direction I’m following. I am grateful and truly blessed.


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