Rom 4:18-25; Mt 9:9-13
Last week there was the “Britain’s Got Talent” competition on TV, watched by some 4 millions viewers. It featured various amateur performers, from little children to adults, musicians to singers, each giving an act and then allowing the viewing public to vote by telephone, the final round. I don’t normally watch that kind of TV –life’s too short to waste it watching that stuff on a regular basis, but I happened to switch it on just as the final roundup and votes was occurring, and it was captivating to watch. Captivating, I found, because of the sense of excitement and hope, each group of performers hoping they would win.
Each one ‘hoped’, but only one could win -‘hope’ can seem a tragic thing sometimes.
And it’s hope that I want to say a few words about.
I want to talk about REAL hope –because hope is one of those things people say odd vague things about. “You’ve just gotta have hope”, or, “All you’ve got left is hope”.
But hope in what? And WHY have hope?
Abraham, we heard in our Second Reading from the letter to the Romans, Abraham had hope, even “though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled”(Rom 4:18).
And I can hope that I might win Britain’s Got Talent, even though “it seemed Fr. Dylan’s hope could not be fulfilled”. But what REASON would there be to hold such hope?
Abraham had hope because he believed the promise made him by the Lord would be fulfilled, and there is no more solid reason to have hope.
What better reason COULD there be to hope something would happen than having God promise you it will? There IS no stronger reason.
God has made promises to each one of us, promises that come to us via the Scriptures,
and I want to focus on just one of those promises:
the promise to enable us to do what he asks of us.
Abraham’s promise related to what God asked of him. God had called him to follow him, to leave his land and become the father of a mighty nation, even though he was old and seemed past it. But God is mightier than our weaknesses and limitations, and He was mightier that Abraham’s. Abraham hoped and believed the promise of the Lord, and he became the mighty father of the Chosen Jewish people, and through Christ -the Jewish Messiah- he has become the father of every Christian, over a billion and a half of us just today. Abraham believed even through the hard times, even when the going got tough.
We too have been called by the Lord. That call we heard in the gospel, “Follow me”(Mt 9:9), is a call He made and continues to make to each of us. And with that call goes the promise to enable us to follow that call –“my grace is sufficient for thee” (2Cor 12:9) -what we call the “graces of state”, the graces we need to do what God calls us to do. And Abraham stands as an example of that.
God promised. Abraham believed, and thus hoped.
And his hope was fulfilled. He was given the strength he needed to do what must be done.
So, back to talent competitions:
Jesus has not promised that everyone will win Britain’s Got Talent;
He has not promised us success in every endeavour we embark on.
But he has promised that His grace will be with us, that His grace will be enough for us,
and that gives us the reason for REAL hope
–hope that we can succeed in what God has called us to do: “Follow me”.