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FAITH AND CULTURE | Renewing hope in Christ

Summer is an opportunity to change, reimagine and reorganize our lives. With winter behind us and spring cleaning done, we find ourselves craving new adventures and plans. The idea of travel and going to different places seems more appropriate, especially as some of our major life and work commitments slow down. For many of us, this translates into a long-awaited vacation with family or friends.

There is something about the summer landscapes, too, that seem to conspire and encourage newness and change in our lives. All around us, we see new vibrant greens, colorful flowers and hear familiar birds chirping and children playing in our neighborhood streets. A quiet stroll or walk in the park intersects, once again, with the sounds of people playing their favorite sports or eating out in the fresh air. In short, we find ourselves ready to go out into the brightness of the sun and its warmth once again.

At the same time, however, we also recognize that we are facing a new normal. With the experience of COVID-19 still in our lives, the new possibilities of hope that appear in the horizon also present challenges. “We are well aware that the whole creation, until this time, has been groaning in labor pains. And not only that: we too, who have the first fruits, even we are groaning inside ourselves, waiting in eagerness for our bodies to be set free” (Romans 8:22-23).

Indeed, after an intense period of social distancing and isolation brought about by the pandemic, we are finding different ways of engaging one another physically. Like the early Christian communities, we can recognize, too, that our groaning is not for naught. Our long walk this past year has taught us the value of holding on to the virtue of patience and perseverance. “But having this hope for what we cannot yet see, we are able to wait for it with perseverance and confidence” (Romans 8: 25). The spiritual horizon of hope that has opened before us amid difficulties and struggles invites us, also, to rediscover our sense of belonging and community.

In returning to our familiar workspaces, churches and places of community, we remain mindful of the need to exercise mutual care and protection for each other. While we may not have everything necessarily figured out, we have much certainty in the hope that comes from our faith in Christ and the goodness of people. Part of claiming this renewed hope in Christ and community, then, entails our firm commitment to embrace not only the goodness it brings, but also the responsibility to discern and pray as we find our paths forward. Even as we welcome this new normal and season of change, we trust that our intentions and responsible actions will yield good and abundant fruits.

More to the point, we know in faith that we are not alone in our discernment, prayers and actions for the common good. “The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness, when we do not know how to pray properly, then the Spirit personally makes our petitions for us in groans that cannot be put into words; and he who can see into all hearts knows what the Spirit means” (Romans 8: 26). So, as we go out into this summer newness with all its uncertainties, joys and possibilities, we place our trust in the Lord, lifting each other in prayer and hope. Surely, God will give us what we need.

Orozco is executive director of human dignity and intercultural affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

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