Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
There was a strange talk-back topic on the radio during the week. It seems that getting Christmas presents on Christmas day is no longer the ‘done’ thing. Apparently, the uber thing these days is to get the gift now, and not have to wait until the 25th of December, so as to avoid associating the Christmas gift-giving tradition with Christmas’ Christian overtones. Christmas any day of the year – just avoid the Christ bit.
We live at a time when patiently waiting for something is no longer highly valued. There’s no such thing as ‘lay-by’ anymore – we have instant micro loans instead. Rather than gradually owing what’s needed in your home, Ikea provides a one-stop shop to instantly furnish it. Relationship-building is no long pursued over time; its decided on a swipe to the right or left on a dating app. We have access to an economic and cultural standard that pushes us towards an expectation of immediate satisfaction of whatever it is we look for.
Mostly, we all enjoy the benefits of this easier access to our goals. Yet, in acknowledging this benefit, we are at risk of losing something quite deep about our humanity. It is the value that hope has in our lives. Unlike optimism, which is based on chance (just think of the current Spring Racing Carnival as the supreme example of what optimism looks like), hope is something to be pursued with purpose and determination over time. It is always about something good to strive for. Hope directs us towards the future; it is not a ‘here-and-now’ thing. Hope also requires our work in the pursuing; it’s not about finding instant gratification. And that which we hope for is always something possible; it is not a pie-in-the-sky fantasy. When we lose sight of hope as a fundamental dimension of our humanity, then we risk losing ourselves to the arbitrary vagaries of the world.
In our present fragmented culture – where anything about our lives can be selected and chosen – hope is the chain which can keep our lives anchored. Without the chain of hope, we drift; and when we drift, we lose purpose and meaning. Our ever-fragmenting world is not the solution to our worries and anxieties – in fact, it is a cause of them – because it seeks to dispense with any sense of having a goal in our lives. It does not generate hope.
Resurrection is the goal of a life lived in hope. As Jesus said to those who did not believe in the resurrection: “Now he is God, not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all people are in fact alive.” We find hope in our own lives when we believe in a God who assures our living. In other words, our resurrection – the hope of life eternal – is anchored to God’s purpose for us. We are made for resurrection; it is God’s goal for us.
We should not be blind to the impact on our lives that the loss of belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is having in our society. Neither economic growth nor social progression nor technological advancement will allow us to find fulfilment in our lives, even if they bring benefits to them, because none of these are built on hope. They propose choices, but do not offer purpose; they make promises that will not be kept. They do not offer a future to strive for.
Our belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope of a good future that this brings, is our only sure anchor in life. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our humanity is unsaved and our efforts to find happiness futile. So, trust in the Lord’s resurrection, for it is the source of our hope.