Hope is the light which fills your eyes…
Cribs are a fascinating part of Christmas. Their empty manger in the lead-up to the Christmas Eve
celebration is particularly fascinating. It is full of expectation of the coming of Jesus; it is full of hope.
Confidence in something to come is an aspect of hope. Though we know that Jesus has come, we
relive that time of waiting. On 25th December, comes the joyful realisation of that hope: the fulfilment
of the Messiah’s promise, the hope of the Jewish people from ancient time: Emmanuel, God with us.
The Lord has come and visited His people. (Lk 7:16).
What marvels the Lord worked for us, indeed we were glad. (Ps 126)
And, of course, that hope that is realised in the birth of Jesus gives way to even greater hope with his Death followed by Resurrection and the “bright promise of immortality” which opens up before us.
St John reassures us in that uncharted hope:
What we are to be in the future we know not but we are secure in the
hope that we will be like Him who has gone before us.” (1 Jn 3:2).
Indeed, it is St John’s Gospel which emphasises the end being already fulfilled in the present. This is so important when we think of hope in Christ – it is already here but we look to what is yet to come.
In our reflections on hope this year we of the National Association of Healthcare Chaplains also wish to consider professionalism. While this has negative aspects too, a positive definition of professionalism is that it means a worthwhile gift. We can again avail of the symbol of the crib and refer to the 3 wise visitors who came from afar and who bore gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These gifts are not at all inappropriate for what we offer as chaplains:
- gold – the inestimable treasure of what we bring, Jesus Risen;
- frankincense – the prayer we offer in union with the other, as it spirals upward in the Spirit;
- myrrh – a symbol of the love frequently offered by us, as agents of the Father, to accompany another’s illness or journey from this realm to the next.
In such loving and hope-filled ministry, shall we realise the calling that is ours filled with the joy of the Spirit. In the words of Simeon in his realisation of the hope that Christmas brings, “My eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared for all people “(Lk 2:30-31).
Let me finish with the words of the chorus of “Hope”, one of the songs of Rathmines Folk Group:
“Hope is the light that fills your eyes,
Hope is the word that Christ devised
Reflecting His world, green grass, blue skies,
Hope is the strength you need…”
Fr Paddy Cully (pictured) is a chaplain in Cherry Orchard Hospital in west Dublin. One of a number of Spiritans engaged in healthcare chaplaincy or chaplaincy with Spiritan schools in Ireland, Fr Paddy is also active in Justice, Peace & the Integrity of Creation (JPIC). He previously served in Brazil, which has had a continuous Spiritan presence since Fr Dave Regan and Fr Enda Watters opened a mission there in 1963.
*Adapted from, and reproduced by kind permission of, The Carer, the newsletter of the National Association of Healthcare Chaplains.+