Thursday of the fourth week of Advent, 2022
Many people come to Catholic Charities seeking a reversal of their lives’ realities. What hungry person wouldn’t want a full refrigerator, or what homeless person wouldn’t want their own house — not for just for today but forever? Sometimes their expectations weigh us down and their pent-up frustrations or despair overwhelm us. We know that we cannot “snap our fingers” and fix everything for them. It doesn’t happen that way!
So then, what are today’s readings talking about? They’re talking about the visible hope that better situations can emerge in the lives of those who seem to have nothing to hope for. Hope depends on their ability to see the potential for obtaining what they need. But how can they see that hope unless we show it to them?
We are the light that allows people’s potential to be reflected back to them. When we can let our love for the dignity of each person shine through our words and actions as we assist them, when we have true hope that assisting them at their time of need will make a positive difference. When we are open to their potential, then they will be more open to change. When we believe in people, they can begin to believe in themselves. And that belief can thrust them into the actions that will make positive changes in their lives.
Yes, they need our help right now—but aren’t we trained to provide help? If that help is not given with a dose of valid hope, if that help is not given with a loving spirit, it is just a temporary patch that does not touch their heart with the energy of hope.
When Mary sang her first Magnificat, she was a poor young girl from a remote village, pregnant but not married, and carrying a strange message in her heart. It was only when Elizabeth saw her and cried with joy that Mary saw the reflection of that hope in her own life and was able to sing out how God was working through her to change the world.
Sister Mary Louise Stubbs, DC, currently assists sisters’ ministries in low-resourced countries by seeking out needed resources through Daughters of Charity International Project Services. She spent many years in Catholic Charities and community service systems in addition to various roles in healthcare-related services.