Hope is born at Easter
BY FR. JEFF SCHEELER, OFM
When I was a kid, Doris Day’s song Que será, será was quite popular. In the song, the singer asks her mother about the future (Will I be pretty?; Will I be rich?) and her mother answers, "Que será, será, whatever will be, will be; the future's not ours to see; que será, será; what will be, will be." (Can you hear it in your head? I can; I can remember my mother singing it at home in a very 1950s vignette in my memory.) Interesting lyrics to ponder. While they might encourage a stance of openness and receptivity to what will be, and an unnecessary need to control everything, in some ways they also seem to be quite fatalistic: There is nothing we can do about the future; it is all out of our hands; whatever will be, will be, good or bad. You can’t make a difference one way or the other.
Somehow I don’t think life is quite that defeatist. Though obviously much is beyond our control, and mysterious and sometimes bad things do happen without our knowing why, I also think that we can contribute to shaping and creating the future. This is especially for people who cooperate with God’s grace. We have a future full of hope, as Jeremiah recognizes: For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jer 29:11) A future full of hope is a special gift to those with Easter faith. Peter says it well in his first letter: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…" (1 Peter 1:3) It is Easter that really explains why we are people with a living, vibrant hope! Easter causes hope to be born and live in us. So happy birthday to you -- and the hope that lives in you -- this Easter!
A few years ago I read John Allen’s book, The Future Church: How Ten Trends are Revolutionizing the Catholic Church (Doubleday, 2009). In the book he identifies what he senses to be the most important currents shaping the Church, and based on his experience as a journalist, tries to look down the line at how they might play out in the future. In each chapter, Allen first identifies what the trend is ("What’s happening?") and then tries to suggest "what it means" by identifying "near-certain consequences," then "probable consequences" and finally "possible consequences," with each section carrying a little less certitude. I have found this to be one of the most fascinating books I have read in a long time. It is fascinating to think about what the contours of the rest of the 21st Century might look like in the Church, our parishes, and even in secular society. Where is it all going? What will be? As we look into our personal crystal balls, we may feel fear or we may feel hope. I personally think hope is quite in order, especially as we celebrate Easter and think about the certain consequences of Jesus raised from the dead.
As we move into the future of our parishes and our Church, and as we make the little and big decisions that are part of our everyday lives, it is my hope that we will actively contribute to promoting God’s Kingdom and unleashing the Gospel; I hope we will shape the future with our missionary charism. I think we can help offer hope to our Church and our world. I know we can make a difference, just as those who have gone before us have. I hope we can exude a sense of joy and confidence in God’s great mercy and grace which the resurrection reveals. I think Easter has consequences which can and should be evident in our lives. Easter blessings to you and your family!
(Fr. Jeff Scheeler is Pastor of Transfiguration Parish in Southfield, Mich.)