August 30, 2011 - Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

St. Paul, in this reading from his First Letter to the Thessalonians, encourages us not to sleep like the rest of the world. Sleeping means not trying. He also says that we are not of in darkness, for we are children of light. Darkness makes a person want to sleep. Darkness is hopelessness. Hopelessness makes us want to stop trying. Light is hope. We are children of hope.

What kind of hope? Not a false hope. St. Paul has just warned us that “when people are saying, ‘Peace and security,’ then sudden disaster comes upon them.” This is the false hope on which the world hangs its dreams. False hope is more assumption than hope. It starts innocently enough, we wake up in the morning and assume that the floor is still there. We breathe air and just assume that there is oxygen in it. We go to work, and we assume that we will get paid. We get in an elevator and assume that we will not plummet to our deaths. We must do all this assuming, because the alternative is being paranoid to the point of insanity.

But then we extend these assumptions to other matters. We put money away in a retirement account and assume that it will still be there in thirty years. We live in America, so we assume that no army will ever invade our home. We go to the grocery store and assume that there will be food available for a price we can pay. We make these assumptions, yet how many counter-examples throughout the world should give us pause! Our safety and security seems so rock-solid, but it is really a fragile soap bubble in time destined to eventually pop.

When someone puts their hope in this world, they are in darkness. They think that they are awake; they are working so hard; they are exhausted every day, but they are really just dreaming; they are asleep. If you put in an eight hour shift in your dreams one night, no one will actually pay you no matter how tired you are. If you work hard for a worldly hope, even if you do not live through war or famine, the world will fail to actually pay you.

We are children of the light. Our hope is founded in reality, and it will not disappoint. Now if only we could work as hard for our real salvation as the world does for it ephemeral rewards.