“In the service of the Lord, work not half-heartedly but with conscientiousness and an eager spirit. Be joyful in hope; persevere in hardship; keep praying regularly; share with any of God’s holy people who are in need; look for opportunities to be hospitable.”
Romans 12: 11-13
Recently a publication documenting the resurgence of Hate Groups in the US crossed my desk. Page after page described these groups, the particular focus of each one’s “hate” with maps and graphs further substantiating this phenomenon. Needless to say, this did not stir any sense of “hope” in me, but it did give me pause. Could our nation’s “love” and “goodness” be documented in a similar way? Who might be included?
Yet, we live in a world of possibilities. In the New Testament, we see a power, a “can-do-ability,” rooted in the Greek word dynamai which conjures up for us that which is dynamic, i.e., characterized by energy and effective action. At the time of the Ascension, Jesus promised the apostles “the dynamai of the Holy Spirit” which would enable them to “be witnesses not only in Jerusalem but to the earth’s remotest end.” (Acts 1: 4-8)
Vaclav Havel, Czechoslovakian author and political leader, describes hope in the following way: “Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope in this deep and powerful sense is…an ability to work for something because it is good.”
“The common good” has long been a value in religious life, challenging each member to prefer the good of the community over any personal advantage. However, the “common good” has taken on new depth and meaning as we become more conscious of the inter-connectedness of all God’s creation with its challenges for creating a more just and sustainable planet. Hope enables us to pursue those possibilities which are for the “common good” of all with energy and effective action.
Returning to my initial ponderings, perhaps my documentation of commitment to the “common good” could include organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Bread for the World, Pax Christi, Catholic Charities, socially responsible networks for investments, to mention just a few. Of course, integral to these would also be the millions of financial supporters who make their work possible. Volunteer organizations, student groups who spend their breaks working to alleviate the plight of the poor, humanitarian relief efforts in areas of the world reeling from natural disasters might also be included. Worthy of mention, though admittedly more difficult to document, would be some of the grassroots movements that advocate “random acts of kindness” and “paying it forward” or ask us to ask “What would Jesus do?” and thus bring to our attention how we personally can contribute to the “common good” by cultivating a proactive mindset for goodness.
Compelled by our Gospel commission to be witnesses, let us go forth with Hope, certainly confronting evil and injustice wherever we encounter it while simultaneously attuned to the “possibilities” of contributing to the treasury of goodness in our world through our energetic and effective action.