Halftime

Today is a great set of readings. Here on the first day of December in the year of Our Lord 2020, in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, when I read them is preparation for celebrating Mass, it felt like a half-time locker-room speech by the coach, by Knute Rockne. And, I mean that in the best sense.

The “first half” of the pandemic is over, but we have been taking beating to be sure. The coach begins with this chorus-rousing look to the future when we win:

“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.” (Isaiah 11:1-3a)

I was inspired to hear it in that vein because of something a good friend wrote in response to one of my posts, Choosing Hope. He wrote a response in the comment section, that I will recast  to capture the sense of the half-time exhortation with a spiritual war afoot:

Ok, team. This pandemic has given us a beating. But we are in the game. We are a people of Hope. And even though this next stretch is going to be tough, maybe even the toughest, we will prevail. Yes, we are going to take our lumps. Yes, we will experience fatigue and discouragement, but we are people of Hope.

We are going to win this thing. Why? Because Hope does not disappoint.

Set your calendars. By May 1, 2021 we will have triumphed if only we execute with consistency, perseverance, fortitude – all fueled by Hope.

Between now and then, this is what I need you all to do. Each one of you, no matter what your position on the team. Everyone is playing, no one’s on the bench. Here’s the plan:

  • hopeful preparation during Advent
  • celebration of the Lord’s birth (our most inspiring symbol of HOPE)
  • embrace the days of Lent as opportunity to open our hearts to God and make room for inspiration on the countless ways we can help our “fellow runners” limp to the finish line
  • acceptance of our ultimate HOPE in the Resurrection of the Lord, and
  • for the final 26-day countdown to May 1, when an outpouring of Gratitude signals another “new beginning,” we will triumph as we come together as a Parish, a Church, a community and a nation determined to recognize the unfair distribution of the suffering from this pandemic and to repair the fabric of our connectedness as a people of Hope.

We are not just hunkering down in despair and taking a beating for 5 more months. Time to begin the countdown and the ground building for a better world post May 1.

Get out there and be a People of Hope.

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