Hope, Not Fear

April 16, 2017 | N W | Deacon Eddie, Discipleship, Easter, Hope, Trust

The Resurrection of the Lord
April 16, 2017 – Year A
Readings: Acts 10:34A, 37-43 / Ps 118 / Col 3:1-4 / Jn 20:1-9
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon

If you’ve spent any time on the internet looking at social media, you have encountered a “meme.”  Even if you don’t know the word “meme,” you probably do know what I’m talking about.  I had been seeing these things for a long time and had no clue what they were called until one day my teenagers informed me of the proper term for these things.  You see, I just thought they were funny little pictures with some writing on them.  But no, they are called “memes,” and I’m sure you’ve seen some of them.   

Perhaps you’ve seen the one with the little kid on the telephone making a face.   It says under it, “If Mom says no, call Grandma.”  Or maybe you’ve seen the one with a minion from the “Despicable Me” movie standing with an iPhone that says, “I think my iPhone is broken.  I pressed the home button but I’m still at work.”  Or maybe you’ve seen the one with a plate of green chocolate chip cookies.  It says, “My doctor told me to eat more greens.  Does this count?”  

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a meme that got me thinking.  It was a picture of a sheep.  It said, “Easter is not about the bunny.  It’s about the lamb.”  I thought that was good.  Then I thought, why is it that a bunny and colored eggs have become symbols for Easter?  So being the curious sort that I am, I had to look it up.   

It turns out that rabbits have been a symbol of fertility (for obvious reasons) as long as recorded history existed.  It turns out that eggs were also a symbol of fertility.  These symbols are typically used in the Spring after there’s been a long winter.  The plants are starting to bud, and new life is starting to spring up all around us.  Somewhere along the line (my research indicating it was with the Germans), they started incorporating the symbol of the rabbit and the egg as a symbol of Christ:  Christ who was crucified, died, was buried and rose again.   

All of these springtime things are really symbols of hope.  We all kind of know what hope is and we want to have hope.  But I think it helps to actually look at the meaning of it.  If you look up the definition, I like this one: “Hope is a combination of the desire for something along with an expectation that you will receive it.”  Hope is a fundamental part of Christianity.  In fact, hope, along with faith and charity, are the theological virtues.  They are called the theological virtues because they come from God.  They are oriented to God and God is their source.  They are the foundation of life as a Christian.   

I got to thinking about hope and how we can develop it.    There are some important lessons about hope in the gospel stories.  One thing that I have noticed about hope is that fear is the enemy of hope.  Fear takes hope away.  Fear takes hope and replaces it with despair.  Fear is all over the stories of the Passion of Christ.  The disciples had just seen their best friend murdered and they were afraid for their own lives.  But it’s interesting that the women obviously were able to overcome their fear.  They went to the tomb to see for themselves.  What is the first thing that Jesus says to them? “Do not be afraid.”  

The next thing that occurs to me about hope is that hope requires trust.  The women in the story were not paralyzed with fear like the guards.  They had trust.  They trusted God.  They trusted Jesus.  They trusted in the things that He said.  They trusted in the scriptures that they had grown up with.  So when the earthquake happened, they did not think it was the end of the world.  They listened to the angel.  For us, trust is key to developing hope.  That’s trust in God and trust in Christ.  How do we do that?  By developing a personal relationship with Him: through prayer, through the scriptures, and through the Sacraments.   

The last thing I would like to share with you about hope is that hope is contagious.  In the first letter of St. Peter, he writes, “Always be ready for an explanation for the hope that is within you.”  As Christians, we are called to share the good news.  We are called to share the gospel.  We are called to share the story that Jesus, the Son of God, loved us so much that he became one of us and died for us, so that we could live with him forever.   

There’s another interesting point about the word, meme.  It turns out that meme is not a new word.  Meme actually predates the internet and predates personal computers.  The original meaning of a meme was: an element of culture passed from one individual to another, especially by imitation.  So there you have it.  We are called to be “gospel memes.”  We are called to share Christ with the world. Imagine, if we lived our lives always with the hope of Christ, how people would be drawn to imitate us.