Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Jn 14:1-6 Can We Now Talk About Hope?

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter
(Click here for readings)

"Jesus said to his disciples"  "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in me."

Timing is everything.  Last night I gave a talk at the "Float On Annual Dinner for 1 Million 4 Anna Foundation."  Its founders, Carol and David Basso, lost their daughter Anna to Ewing Sarcoma, a devastating bone cancer that primarily affects children and adolescents.  I can honestly say I have always considered their daughter a saint.  So when they asked me to speak at their annual gathering, I could not have been more honored or thrilled.  Carol asked me to speak about HOPE. 

As I prepared for my talk, my mind kept wandering back to something Jesus said:  "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me."  I used this verse as the central point of my talk.  Little did I know it was today's Gospel passage! 

God's timing is everything. 

Below are my reflections from last night.   

I hope to buy this car...I hope to get asked to the prom...I hope I get into this fraternity...I hope to get this job...

I hope to live.

We can cut our hopes short, just like we can our lives. 

Hope is an essential part of life...and death.  So we need to make sure we plant it everywhere we go and in everything we say and do.  Let's take care of it, and cultivate it, so that we can harvest it at the fullness of time.  Why?  Because without hope we would never grow or never change or never fully understand who and what we are.  Without hope we would remain trapped in our fears, regrets and/or resentments.  Without hope we would cut short our lives. 

So what exactly is hope?  Hope is the virtue that allows us to see beyond the present; that is, beyond the moment, the now.  It allows us to enter into the future, even if only for a brief moment, and dive into two profound realities:  ourselves and God. But it also does something else:  it places a halo around life problems.  Hope does not live in a fantasy world, where there is no pain or suffering.  It doesn't scoff at our tears or miseries.  If anything, it respects them and sheds light from above on them. 

Problems that are not.  Recently, I heard at the dinner table about a thread on twitter called #1stworldproblems.  Don't go there. It's not worth it.  It's a joke, a delusion.  The problems listed on this thread are not at all real problems.  They are just silly distractions.  It's bogus!  Actually, it's just a decoy to real 1st world problems: cutting, eating disorders, divorce, pornography, illness, drug addictions and teen suicides.  These are real problems.  The rest are gross understatements.

The tragedy is this:  if we cannot even identify real problems, then how will we be able to have real hope?  If hope becomes shortsighted or narrow minded or shallow, then so to will our lives be.  It's time we go deep.

Do not let your hearts be troubled?  How could Jesus say this, especially right before his betrayal and crucifixion?  How could He speak these words if He knew what was going to happen to him?  "Do not let your hearts be troubled?"  Are you kidding?  You're about to be arrested, beaten, whipped, mocked and humiliated, belittled and crucified.  And you say, "Do not let your hearts be troubled???"  Are you serious?

Before I gave my talk, a young girl got up and gave her testimony.  Staci Muckleroy is a survivor of Ewings Sarcoma.  She was diagnosed with it while in high school.  On May 5th, she celebrated five years of being cancer-free.  Every words she said kept my attention.  And what she said both scared me and surprised me.

She said:  The pain I felt in my hip was excruciating.  It brought me to tears.  It was the worst pain I ever felt in my life.  I was afraid.  I wanted to give up so many times.  But there were people in my life that fought for me and believed in me.  They gave me hope.  Today, I thank God for giving me this illness.  It has made me the person I am today.  It has made me a better person.

We need people like Staci in our lives.  I need people like Staci in my life.  I need people like Staci and Anna in my life.  In their own incredible ways, they make me want to be a better man and a better priest.  They make me want to live my life better.  Life's serious problems create tremendous opportunities for growth and hope, which brings out the best in us: gratitude and reassurance.  Gratitude to everyone.   Reassurance for everything. 

Do not let your hearts be troubled is a message of hope to His disciples.  It is a message they took with them to the four corners of the world and to me: 

My hope is that I can right a wrong, and be forgiven.  My hope is that my tears can one day turn to gladness.  My hope is that this present struggle can make me a better man.  My hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth.  My hope is that we can turn evil on its head. My hope is that we can find a cure for cancer and still be as brave  as Anna and Staci.

My hope in life cannot be to just live longer.  It must be to live forever.  It has to be.  Our hope in life cannot be to just be healthy and/or successful.  It must be to be happy and holy.  Otherwise, when we find the cure for cancer, it will only be a temporary victory, quickly lost in the confusion of another great disappointment or serious problem, like pollution, abuse, war or terrorism.

God's message.  Who am I?  Why am I here?  What am I supposed to do with my life?  These questions may seem a bit scary, but boy are they very important and worth investigating, for the answers we seek and find will determine how we live and how we die.

No wonder why the Lord kept repeating over and over and over again to His disciples:  "Do not be afraid."  

Yes, Do not be afraid to enter into God's presence.  After all, this is where we will find our Hope and our God, for God is present in our hope.

In the most terrifying of ways, Staci found God.  In the midst of her suffering and pain, she learned what was and wasn't important in life.  Did God not reveal His love for us in the same way:  in the midst of human suffering?  Did He not reveal what was and wasn't important while suffering on the Cross?  Having loved His own who were in the world.  He loved them to the end. 

Fight the fight!  Fight till the end.  Never give in and never give up!

Hope is a way of life best found in a person:  Jesus Christ.  "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Come follow me."

How can I nourish hope?  Hope is different from faith and love.  Faith can be intellectually nourished. I can come to understand that there is more to life than just what ear can hear and eye can see.  Faith gives depth and width, meaning and purpose, meat and potatoes to life and death.   

Love bears all things, endures all things and even believes all things.  It can quickly grow and appear out of nowhere.  Love gives us the reason to give and forgive; to smile and to sacrifice.  Love makes life worth living. 

But what about hope?  How can I nourish hope?  How can I make it grow?  I think there is only two ways:  (1) to closely examine the lives of those who have gone through hell and have come back to tell about it; and (2) to face our gravest problems by uniting ourselves on the Cross with Christ, the one who knows His way out of the grave. 

Hope is essential to make life worth living and suffering worth traversing.

"Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me" (Jn 14:1).

Hope in Christ gives us a strength to keep going, and the courage to let go.  It is finished.


  1. This is a beautiful meditation. Anna was a wonderful girl -- a saint in our midst and the entire JPII community was inspired and bettered for her strength, love, and charity.

    One of my favority stories of hope is the story of Gianna Jessen - an abortion survivor. She shares her story of love, hope, and forgiveness when her mother tried to abort her at 7 1/2 months. She recently converted as well!

    "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

  2. When our young people die, I think of our Lord instantly assigning them as guardian angels. I'm sure Anna is looking down from heaven pleased by her parents bringing attention to Ewing Sarcoma and raising money for critical research. There is hope for a cure someday; however in the process, there is even greater hope for awareness, effective treatment options, and a closer community dedicated to helping one another through suffering. So many amazing discoveries are being made in cancer research! (This is a field of study I wanted to go into straight out of college. God obviously had another plan in mind....)

    Of course, along with hope arises a look into the future. We hope for situations to improve. We hope for a better understanding of others and their needs. We hope for an end to all kinds of atrocities surrounding us day in a day out. I can't help but hope and pray for the pregnant Sudanese woman who will be executed for apostasy. The government plans to kill her only after she's given birth to the child and nursed it. At least they won't kill her unborn child, too. This is by far one of the most heinous crimes done to a specific woman that I've ever heard of. The crimes and violence toward women have escalated to horrific proportions. It's scary and sad. Thank God for our faith, hope and love. Hopefully some day we can break this vicious cycle of violence against women as well as religious intolerance.

    I just happen to be reading C.S. Lewis' classic "The Screwtape Letters." Even though it's a complete sattire from the perspective of the devil and a demon, I'm amazed at the relevancy to modern day life. There's one chapter where Screwtape explains how the future can be used to push the soul away from God. He says: "Hence, nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust and ambition look ahead.." We can turn around Screwtape's logic and think the future is rooted in virtue. Gratitude is part of the past, present and future. Certainly when we look ahead in life, and follow the narrow path to holiness, we can convert fear, avarice, lust and ambition into peace, charity, chastity, and spiritual fulfillment.


    -Jennifer :)

    1. Maybe you are speaking figuratively about a person who has died becoming an angel, but for those who may not know, I think it's important to clarify that the Catholic faith does not teach that we are transformed into angels after death. Humans and angels are both persons, but separate beings, and humans cannot become angels.

      There is a good explanation here (see the explanation under "Fiction: When humans, especially young children, die and go to heaven, they become angels.")

    2. Dear Anonymous,

      Thank-you for the clarification and the website link. I was indeed speaking figuratively, using my imagination. (I can get a little carried away sometimes. Sorry about that.) It is comforting to think the spirit of someone who's died is still with us, watching down from heaven and protecting us. Personally, my grandparents are now in their mid 80s. I don't want to even think about them dying anytime soon. I hope and pray I can enjoy their presence a few more years longer. I'm not ready to let go but need to prepare myself. God may take them at any moment.

      Many times over the past few months I've prayed to Our Lord thinking, "Father, I'm willing to trade places with someone who is on their death bed. Why don't you take me instead? This baby, this teenager, this mother with a family.... they are so holy and devout. They are intelligent, incredible, loving people with a family who depends on them. I only have myself. I know this sounds so selfish; however, I just don't feel as if I'm needed as much as the others who die prematurely. Why do you keep my heart ticking when somebody dying has much more to offer the world? I just don't understand why. I do thank you for my life even though I'm not quite sure what my purpose is supposed to be. Many of the ones you've allowed to die "got it" but didn't have a chance to "live-it" fully. "


    3. I suppose those of us who are still here aren't ready yet. I was reading tomorrow's reflection on the Gospel in The Word Among Us:

      "I have fashioned you as a strong, living stone; let me fill you with my strength. Let me join you to your brothers and sisters so that together you can become a spiritual house. You are meant to be the place where my glory dwells. So I am refining you, polishing you, and shaping you. Let me complete this work so that you fit snugly next to the other stones in my house. I want to give you a gleaming finish so that you will be a brilliant reflection of my glory. I want to turn you into a monument of my loving kindness for all to see."

  3. Great title! Even greater meditation!


  4. "Without hope we would remain trapped in our fears, regrets and/or resentments. Without hope we would cut short our lives....
    … Hope …. it places a halo around life problems. Hope does not live in a fantasy world, where there is no pain or suffering. It doesn't scoff at our tears or miseries. If anything, it respects them and sheds light from above on them…..No wonder why the Lord kept repeating over and over and over again to His disciples: "Do not be afraid."

    I believe that the devil can win in two ways: for us to fall into our temptations, of course and for us to walk away from those who need us (omission). What leads us to both of these sins is usually fear / defeatism. I think this is the greatest sign of the devil today: defeatism.

    God only wins in one straight and narrow way: unity as in the Trinity. Each were distinct in their own way, but unselfish Love drove the fear away if it ever appeared. It was this kind of Love for Someone Else that kept Jesus on the cross. “Perfect Love casts out fear.” I can only strive for this kind of Love but I must strive. I can't give up.

    When my kids are feeling sorry for themselves, I continue to tell them, “Don’t you dare give up! Think of others before yourself!” (I got that line from you.) Giving up is the devil incarnate!

    My favorite tweet so far: “I may win or I may lose, but I will never be defeated.” Terribly Great Words!

    Thank you Father for your inspiring words. Hope is so under-rated!


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