God's presence is sensed in silence…
Become conscious of your breathing …
- of the sensations in your body …
- of the sounds that surround you …
Ask God to touch your heart during your time of prayer today…
Reading: Romans 12: 9 - 19
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'
· Reading the newspapers, checking the headlines on our phones, listening to news programmes on the radio, we may feel that things are going badly wrong. Indeed, we could sometimes get the impression that most people in this world of ours are violent thugs, drug pushers, abusers, terrorists or thieves. But from our own experience, we know this is not true, and hope is the best way to preserve our sense of the underlying goodness of God's world. Perhaps we would do well to keep in mind the words of Julian of Norwich: "It is a characteristic of God to overcome evil with good", believing, as she did, that God accompanies us on the journey of life.
· We live in hope because we are aware of God's nearness. This helps us to bear pain and suffering, or even, as Paul says, persecution, with patience, and to come through it without losing heart. Because of this trust in God, even when things appear to be going badly, we know that good will come of them.
· It is said that one night, Martin Luther King Jr, at the height of his struggle for civil rights for black people in America, felt completely overwhelmed. He and his family had received so many insults and threats that he felt he could not go on; he'd reached rock bottom. He threw himself on his knees and prayed: 'Lord, I've taken a stand for what I believe is right. But now I'm afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership. If I stand before them without strength or courage, they too will falter. But now I've come to the point where I can't face all this alone.' It was in that moment of near-despair that a spark of hope was kindled in him, and he discovered in himself the strength to continue the struggle. Sustained by prayer, he was able to hope that, ultimately, goodness and love would triumph over evil and hate.
· Recall a time of darkness in your own life when a small spark of hope gave you the strength to keep going …
Thank God for that time …
· How do you respond to these words of Paul: 'If you have hope, this will make you cheerful'?
· Do you believe that goodness really is stronger than evil? Why, or why not?
· Would it help if, during the weeks of Lent, we adverted to the fact that there are far more good Samaritans in this world than there are criminals and destroyers?
· And some of these people live in our own homes, our own streets, our own communities…
Sometimes, like Martin Luther King Jr, we experience God's nearness in bleak times, times when nothing seems right, when everything is painful and difficult. Such moments lead to hope that, in spite of appearances to the contrary, goodness really is stronger than evil. God can draw good from every situation, and to be without hope is to cease to really live. "God, who wishes to work with us and who counts on our cooperation, can also bring good out of the evil we have done." ('Laudato si', §80)
Goodness is stronger than evil;
Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness;
Life is stronger than death;
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.