The following is a reflection given by President Jean Anne Zappa, OSU, at the annual Missioning ceremony held in the Motherhouse Chapel on Sunday, August 29, 2021. The theme for this year’s missioning is “Live in Joyful Hope/Vive Con Gozosa Esperanza.”
I hope she will be ok. I hope he is not upset with me. I hope it is alright. I hope Jean Anne doesn’t t talk too long. We use the word “hope” more often than we imagine, and we use it as a verb or wanting a happy outcome.
Pope Francis reminds us that hope is not optimism, but it is believing and proclaiming what you already know, having a certainty. He says Hope is what is; not something you may want it to be. Hope is not afraid to see reality for what it is and accept the contradictions. This is not unlike what St Angela conveys in her writings. Mary Jo Weaver said that St. Angela was not defined by the bleak realities around her. She embraced them, because of her sureness of a loving, faithful God. That is why she could say with confidence: act, move, believe, strive and hope.
Hope is about having a longing experience, not longing for the past or the future, but a hopeful, faithful, and loving focus. As Sister Mercedes Sanchez said in her recent LCWR talk, “we need to discover seeds for the future that are present here because hope gives us wings to connect us with the past and the future.” God has been, and is, accompanying us to be faith-filled people of hope.
The Book of Ruth is a transition book—a bridge between the Old and New Testament, giving hope for the fulfillment of the covenant promise. Ruth knew in her heart God’s promise and that is why she could make that commitment to Naomi. Do you know that in your heart? Ruth and Naomi offer all women hope who look for encouragement and relationships along the journey. The word Ruth means companion. How can you companion others, especially women, and offer hope?
Hope is never still; hope is on a journey with us. Every Yes, we say, is a seed of hope, a gift of presence to another, grounded in the reality of love.
Written on a concentration camp cell wall during the Holocaust were these words: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining; I believe in love even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God even when God is silent.” That, my sisters, is hope.
If there were ever a time when individuals, society, our world, needs hope, it is now. Hope is the one gift each of us individually and collectively can offer and witness to our broken world, to give hope to the vulnerable, the lonely and marginalized. Hope is not something I hold onto for myself. We are called to live in joyful hope as Pope Francis said. Our joyful hope will be a beacon of light to those who long for hope, those who look for hope. Will they find hope in you?
In a recent America Magazine article, theology professor Paul Waddell said: “We minister hope through acts of kindness and attentiveness. We minister hope when we help people find healing for hurts… We minister hope when we affirm the goodness in a person that they may not yet see in themselves. We minister hope when we ask another how she is doing and take time to listen to what she says. We minister hope when we forgive and allow ourselves to be forgiven. We minister hope when love is called forth from us and we gladly give it away. And we especially minister hope when we affirm the dignity of every person who passes in and out of our lives, celebrate their existence and let them know how poorer the world would be without them.”
So today and every day we mission you to go forth in hope and with hope. May your hope be a light for others. Live in joyful hope.