“Hope does not disappoint,” St. Paul writes, “because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Rom 5:5)
This is one of my favorite lines in scripture. But it takes a bit of work. Because it’s tempting — and, frankly, understandable — to say in response, “Hope does not disappoint? Really?”
A little voice in my own head goes on, saying: “Have you seen the images from Derna, Libya, in the wake of the catastrophic flooding? How about the earthquake in Marrakesh and the collapse of so many Moroccan lives, so much history and culture? Have you checked in on the devastation after the fires in Hawaii? Have you even been following the news of the Sudanese conflict and the resulting violence, suffering and inevitable flow of refugees?”
Those are just a few headlines I’ve read over the past handful of weeks. “And you want to tell me that hope does not disappoint?”
Let’s not forget what St. Paul says next: The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Love is not passive; it necessarily demands action. Why else did Jesus promise the Holy Spirit? To accompany us in the work of realizing God’s dream for our world.
Hope, then, is not a static thing, a prize to be polished and placed on a shelf. It’s a disposition, a posture, a way of grappling with a world so often bereft of hope. Hope demands that we thrust ourselves into the nitty-gritty messiness of our daily lives, that we rub shoulders with friends and strangers alike and be about God’s work.
And there, fluttering about, gracing each and every moment, is the Holy Spirit. Accompanying us. Strengthening us. Pulling from our own meager efforts good and holy fruit.
We’re called to collaborate in the creation of a hope-filled future: for ourselves, for our children, for those who will come after us.
We heard that challenge echoed again and again at Magis, the global gathering of Jesuit-affiliated young people in Lisbon, Portugal, this past July. Magis, in many ways, is a continuing response to the third Universal Apostolic Preference of the global Society of Jesus: We’re called to journey with youth into a hope-filled future.
But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re young, old or somewhere in between. We are all called to create a hope-filled future; we’re called to cultivate this disposition of hope in our own lives. Some of us may be on the front lines of humanitarian disasters; others of us may simply be called to offer a bit of hope at the bus stop each morning.
For me, I’m still struck by the hope I encountered this past summer: Young folks from all over the world gathered together to build community, encounter new cultures and be challenged by the unexpected. The defining feature of so many of these young people was curiosity: What can this experience teach me? What can I give to this experience?
As you reflect this week on ways you might practice the disposition of hope, I invite you to listen to the voices of two of the students I met while in Portugal. Lindsey and Victoria have studied at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and speak beautifully to this topic of building a hope-filled future.
Eric A. Clayton is the award-winning author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith (Loyola Press) and the deputy director of communications at the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. His essays on spirituality, parenting and pop culture have appeared in America Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, U.S. Catholic, Busted Halo and more, and he is a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, IgnatianSpirituality.com and Dork Side of the Force, where he blogs about Star Wars. His fiction has been published by Black Hare Press, the World of Myth Magazine and more. He lives in Baltimore, MD with his wife, two young daughters and their cat, Sebastian. Sign up for his Substack “Story Scraps” here.