The New Year is traditionally a time for reflecting on our hopes for the future. The dictionary tells us that “hope” is our ability to desire, to anticipate, to expect with confidence.

What are you hoping for this year?

  • What are your hopes for your family, your friends, yourself?
  • What are your hopes for your parish, your diocese, the universal Catholic Church?
  • What are your hopes for your community, your country, the world?

If you listen to the wisdom of the world, the message you’ll hear is that nothing is good enough.

  • The way you look, the way your dress, the things you say, and the things you do are never quite right.
  • The Catholic faith and the hierarchy of the Church will be subtly scorned.
  • Even your community, your country and the nations of the world will be called into question.

The world will tell you to hope for more power, more status, more money, and more material things for yourself. If you base your hopes on the wisdom of the world, you’ll quickly begin to feel inadequate and insecure.

But this year, there is another voice and another definition of “hope.” In his encyclical, Spe Salvi (“On Christian Hope”), Pope Benedict XVI tells us that hope means knowing Jesus Christ. It means knowing that “I am definitely loved, and whatever happens to me, I am awaited by this love. And so my life is good.”

The Pope recognizes that we all have “greater and lesser hopes” depending upon the circumstances of our lives. We may hope that we will be able to use our gifts and talents in meaningful ways. We may hope that our health will be good. We may hope for good things to happen for our children, our parish, our community and our world.

But even when these “lesser” hopes become reality, we feel as if there is still something missing. The reason, the Pope tells us, is that our greatest hope must be God, “who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain.”

Is God your greatest hope?

  • How does your faith in Jesus Christ sustain you?
  • Do you rely on prayer as the foundation for your hope?
  • Do your actions show that you are a person of hope? A Disciple of Christ?

Which voice will you follow this year? The wisdom of the world? Or the wisdom of a Pope who assures us that we can have hope in the future – not because of anything we do – but because of God’s unfailing love and mercy.