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A new year of hope

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Unfortunately, the crowd's voice often crowds out God's voice.

Father Eugene

Some have suggested with the closing of the Year of Mercy, 2017 should be a Year of Hope.

Weary, disillusioned and depressed describe best the feelings of many people I know. The cause is not only our political malaise, but a world of violence and contradictions.

Add to this the fact that we have entered a pharmaceutical age in which commercials constantly remind us of illnesses we might contract and medicines to counter them; that is, if you don't get reactions more detrimental than the promised cure.

Where do we find hope that counters a seemingly hopeless 2017?

The first reading of the Mass from the second Sunday of Advent contains our answer. In it, Isaiah cries out,

"On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,

and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:

a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

a spirit of counsel and of strength,

a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,

and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord."

It is from the line of Jesse, the father of David, that Christ comes, possessing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Two of those gifts in particular contain the hope we desire: wisdom and fear of the Lord.

Wisdom promotes good judgment, i.e., desiring truth and pursuing it to the best of our ability. More important, it includes enlisting God's wisdom in seeking truth.

It is said that each time St. Thomas Aquinas composed a part of his magnificent work, the "Summa Theologica," he raised it to God, seeking God's wisdom in his pursuit of truth. To succeed, truth needs humility and its gift of docility.

Unfortunately, the crowd's voice often crowds out God's voice.

What is particularly disillusioning presently is bashing truth. Worse than this, is the spirit in which it is done: vicious and godless. No wonder many are depressed. The human spirit depends on trustworthiness: Marriages, governments and churches can't succeed without it. When it is missing, failure follows.

Fear of the Lord doesn't imply being frightened. Rather, it is being in awe of God and God's wonders. It reminds those fulfilling heavy responsibilities that they aren't working for their own aggrandizement, but they are carrying out God's work on earth, pointing them heavenward and away from self.

Living the Spirit of the Lord is 2017's best shot at a hope-filled year.

- FatherEugene Hemrick is a columnist for Catholic News Service

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