By Raymond Mwangala, OMI, Assistant General for Mission
Hope is not mere optimism. Sometimes things must worsen before true transformation occurs. Yet, placing our trust in God, we know that the coming year will not be a repetition of the past.
Looking back at 2023, there are many reasons to feel despondent: the violent wars between Russia and Ukraine, Israel and Palestine, the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the number of migrants who continue to die as their attempt to get to a better future, natural disasters, among others. However, we refuse to succumb to despair. We are pilgrims of hope in communion. What is the source of our hope? (cf. 1Pt. 3:15) The Paschal Mystery.
In the Paschal Mystery, God reveals that life ultimately prevails over death, and good conquers evil. The suffering, death, resurrection, ascension of Jesus, and the sending of the Holy Spirit serve as a model for all Christians. Just as Jesus experienced these trials, every Christian throughout history has as well. Though we may currently endure suffering and loss, we understand that these cannot have the final say. No amount of warfare and violence will ever bring true peace. Eventually, new life emerges even from the depths of death.
As we gaze into the horizon of the new year, 2024, may hope spring forth in our hearts. Hope is not mere optimism. Sometimes things must worsen before true transformation occurs. Yet, placing our trust in God, we know that the coming year will not be a repetition of the past. Something profoundly new will unfurl, for we are moving towards the divine plan for the future. May we tirelessly strive for justice and reconciliation among individuals and nations, so that peace, shalom, may reign.
May we look to Mary, the Mother of Peace, as our guide and model. (C.10) She who is the God-bearer, theotokos, knew in her life what it was to wait for God to act. Standing at the foot of the cross, she witnessed her son die. Three days later, she knew him as the resurrected one.
May God bless us as we begin the new year. May he let his face shine upon us and be gracious to us. And may we continue to walk as pilgrims of hope in communion.
Happy new year and many blessings for 2024!