The light of hope

    March 23, 2024

    Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.

    After raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus became a serious problem for the chief priests and Pharisees; too many people were following him. The religious leaders saw themselves in danger of losing power over the people, and consequently their status and wealth. Their decision: Jesus must die.

    In his final days, Jesus faced the religious and political authorities who were caught up in structures and systems of injustice in their world. Crowds were manipulated into violence. Except for his mother and the beloved disciple, Jesus’ followers hid, fled, and denied him. Jesus died on the cross, but we know that this was only the beginning of our story his followers.

    Led by the Holy Spirit, the early church — monasteries, dioceses, religious communities, parishes and so many others — carried forward Jesus’ mission by healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, restoring people to community, feeding millions, caring for vulnerable people on the move, forgiving sins and accompanying the poor. Catholic Charities staff continues this mission through faithfulness to the gospel mandate. By their words and deeds, they are the light of hope that shines on the darkness and fear in so many lives.

    Jesus’ witness and our history as Church tells us that there are always those who would like to extinguish the light, whether for political, religious or prejudiced reasons. If we act only as individuals, darkness takes its toll. But by standing together in community we are light to one another and to the world. Faith gives us strength to live out the mandate of the Gospel.

    During the coming Holy Week may we be renewed in our faith and our commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ.

    Kathy Brown is on the board of Catholic Charities Maine. Prior to retiring in Maine with her husband, she served on staff at Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services and as regional coordinator for Caritas North America. She has master’s degrees in theology from St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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