There was a school system in a large city that had a program, to help children keep up with their school assignments…
… during the time when the children were admitted for sicknesses.
One day a teacher who was assigned to this program, received a call asking her to visit a particular child.
She took the child’s name and room number and had a short talk with the child’s regular class teacher.
“We’re studying about words in his class now – nouns and adverbs,” the class teacher said, “and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”
The hospital-program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon.
The boy had met with a bad accident, been badly burnt and was in great pain.
Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.”
When she left after teaching, she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.
But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?”
The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize.
“No, no,” said the nurse. “You don’t know what I mean. We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, you met him, his whole attitude has changed.
He’s fighting back, responding to treatment…
>> It’s as though he’s decided to live!”
Two weeks later, the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived.
Everything changed when he came to a simple realization which he expressed it this way: “They wouldn’t send a teacher to teach about words, and work on ‘nouns and adverbs’ with a dying boy, would they?”
The gesture of teaching about “words” reinforced hope and courage to that dying boy!
Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.
>> If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today!
The Feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist comes with this great message of “hope”!
The Gospel presents the beautiful incident of the birth and naming of St John the Baptist.
The birth of John the Baptist is the pivot around which the history of our faith turns.
>> He was the last prophet of the Old Covenant – and the first of the New Covenant.
One of the highlighting aspects of the birth of John the Baptist is the message that “hope is not to be lost, even in the midst of extreme barrenness!”
The Gospel of St Luke says that “Elizabeth and Zechariah, both were advanced in years”, but they had no child; Elizabeth was barren” (Lk 1: 7)
Elizabeth’s barrenness was also symbolic of the barrenness of the land, of the world and of the entire humanity…
· Wickedness had caused creation to be incapable of nurturing and sustaining life
· Sin had rendered human beings infertile, to bear God’s grace and live in holiness
… is the God of hope
… the God of fulfilling every promise
… and the God of surprises!
>> From the barrenness of Elizabeth emerged the forerunner of the One who is Life!
>> From the barrenness of the world, God gave rise to the Fountain of hope and trust!
The entire life of St John – through the key events – is a spectacular reminder of this great virtue of “hope”…
a. The conception of John
Even when there is barrenness all around, we need to “hope” in God who is able to work miracles and give us life and joy!
b. The naming of John
Even when there are many worldly voices that seek to distract us from the ways that God wishes for us, we need to “hope” in God and follow whatever He wills, so as to find glory and joy in Him!
c. The life of John in the desert
Even when life takes us through the deserts of emptiness, dangers, hardships and misery, we need to “hope” in God who has a definite plan and purpose for our life!
d. The beheading of John
Even when we become victims of cruelty, exploitation, wickedness and inhumanness, we need to “hope” in God by living a life of truth, courage, convictions and valour!
The Church celebrates the Nativity of only three persons, in her liturgical calendar…
1. Jesus -“Hope” Himself
2. Mother Mary – the Mother of “Hope”
3. John the Baptist – the symbol of “Hope”
May our lives become truly rooted in “hope” and become beacons of spreading this “hope and trust” to others.
>> There are many who are sick in our world.
>> There are many who are burnt by the fires of afflictions and at the point of death
>> There are many who have lost all faith in life and give themselves up to despair and dejection.
Our gestures of teaching about “The Word – Jesus” can reinforce hope and courage to those dying – in sin, in affliction, in depression, in loneliness.
Wish you a Happy Feast of the Nativity of the “symbol of Hope” – St John the Baptist.
>> May Jesus our “Hope” and Blessed Mamma, our “Mother of Hope” strengthen us!
God bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart has trusted in him and I am helped.
>> He is not only with me but in me, and I in Him.”