Memorial of Saint Wenceslaus

Today includes an optional Memorial in honor of St. Wenceslas of Bohemia (which today we would understand as modern Czechoslovakia). The first reading for the memorial is from 1 Peter 3:14-17 and has what I think is one of the most foundational of Biblical and life commands, especially for these times in which we live: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…”  In various and sundry ways people have asked me that question. Often it comes from a family member in the ICU waiting room, a loved one hovering between life and death. The surgeons come to say, “We’re doing all we can.” What is the reason for hope at that moment?

I remember one line from the final movie in the Hunger Games trilogy* when the evil president, Coriolanus Snow, notes, “Too much hope can be a dangerous thing.”  In those ICU room moments can there be too much hope? Will the surgical odds be in your favor?

The heroine of Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, knows the odds will never be in her favor, and yet she hopes, and inspires hope. Life chooses her story for her. She has no choice on when and where she will live in the time given. She only has the choice on how to live. Over the course of the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss answers the question of how she will live. Sometimes reluctantly, sometimes heroically Katniss chooses to live in the way that brings hope. She lives in a way that brings the light of hope into a world fraught with fear. She does not bring just a little hope, measured out and rationed. She comes to understand that without hope or too little hope, the world ends in a whimper or stays stuck huddled around a gas stove or forever in the emergency waiting room. Her extraordinary choices give hope and begin to change the world.

We are called to bring, not just a little hope, but hope that is a writ large because of the life of Christ. The kind of hope that creates something new wherever it is sown. It is Hope that fuels change in our lives, our homes, our parish, our communities and our world. Change can be hard. But whatever hardships or limitations we may now endure, hope rooted in Christ creates a better future and leads one to act, to do something to bring about that better future.

Without hope life simply gets increasingly more difficult. With hope you can do extraordinary things.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…”

What is your answer? Are you ready?

Not familiar with the basic plot of The Hunger Games?

The Hunger Games trilogy takes place in an unspecified future time, in the dystopian, post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, located in North America. The country consists of a wealthy Capitol city, located in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by twelve (originally thirteen) poorer districts ruled by the Capitol. The Capitol is lavishly rich and technologically advanced, but the districts are in varying states of poverty. The trilogy’s narrator and protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, lives in District 12, the poorest region of Panem, located in Appalachia, where people regularly die of starvation. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol one boy and one girl from each of the twelve remaining districts, between the ages of 12 and 18, are selected by lottery to compete in an annual pageant called the Hunger Games. The Games are a televised event in which the participants are forced to fight to the death in a nationally televised event. The winning player and his or her home district are then rewarded with food, supplies, and riches. The purposes of the Hunger Games are to provide entertainment for the Capitol and to remind the districts of the Capitol’s power and its lack of remorse or forgiveness for the failed rebellion of the current competitors’ ancestors.

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