While this date honors St. John because it is the anniversary of his death, the readings fit perfectly with this message of hope, faith, and serving others. In the first reading, the final paragraph clarifies for us that through our faith, there is something far better for us than anything on this earth. Those mentioned in the reading accomplished great acts through their faithfulness but would not see all the rewards of that faith until later.
The responsorial psalm clearly emphasizes hope (faith) and the comfort that is included in such belief. More than any physical offerings, hope is what allows one to persevere and look toward the future. I believe that even today so much of the unrest of the youth and others struggling with their plight in life springs from their total lack of hope for anything else. If what the world gives me today is all there is then why bother. It is the light of hope that drives one to greater good. Hope that there can be a different outcome, faith that that outcome will happen because God is great and all powerful. The hope and faith that the “best is yet to come” although it will be in God’s time not our time.
Even the gospel today echoes the promise of hope. The man possessed by Legion still runs to Jesus and prostrates himself – clearly a sign of hope and faith. As I read these passages of the gospel, I couldn’t help but think of the demons we all carry – our pride, our fears, our unwillingness to fully embrace the messages of Jesus. Sometimes these demons are so strong we forget that if we prostrate ourselves (literally or figuratively) that we will not have to fight them alone. While they may not be driven into swine, they can, indeed, be driven from us and replaced with hope of what is to come. The last line of the prayer card from Salesian Missions sums it nicely: Hope is striving for God’s love to uphold you day and night!
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