Monday, February 2, 2015

Prophets of Hope


            While winter apocalypses were being predicted the other week I was basking in the sunshine of northern California in the San Francisco bay area. Several friars and sisters went out to support the Walk for Life West Coast rally that happened on January 24th. Surrounding the “Walk” we were blessed to be able to do a number of other evangelistic events in the area as well, one of which was a visit to UC Berkeley’s campus. We descended on the campus with friars and sisters on the first day of their classes and quickly realized that unlike most other places we’ve been, we were not the weirdest looking people around!
            In the course of the day we had a few strange conversations prefaced with, “Wow, where can I get a gray dress like that?”  One of our encounters, however, was truly anointed. We met a young man, Colin, searching in the true sense for meaning, for the truth, for hope. The conversation went deep quick and we found ourselves sharing about the struggles of life, suffering, despair, depression, faith and the longing of the human heart for something more.
            At a certain point I shared with him how St. Francis had been searching in a similar way and that his prayer he raised to God for years was, “Who are you God? And who am I?” Immediately Colin blurted out with eagerness, “So what did he find?!” His heart thirsted for an answer; it thirsted for an authentic hope in the midst of life’s struggles. This opened the opportunity for me and the brother I was with to share not only how St. Francis had encountered Jesus Christ and the joy and hope that he gives to life, but we also shared how today in our own life we both have experienced the reality of his love. This is the love of a God who does not simply hit the delete button on evil’s presence, but takes it on himself and makes it a source of new life.

            In the end every human heart that finds itself walking in the “valley of tears” wants to know they are not alone…and as religious we are blessed to be that prophetic witness in the world speaking with our lives and words the message of Christ, “Do not be afraid!”… “I am with you always.” It is His presence in the world, in our lives, that gives us an enduring hope no matter where we may find ourselves on the journey of life.