The Word Among Us

June 2014 Issue

It’s Not a Wishful Dream—It’s a Promise

Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

It’s Not a Wishful Dream—It’s a Promise: Christ in You, the Hope of Glory

I am about to be married. I hope my marriage lasts forever.

• I am starting a new job. I hope it goes well.
• My car broke down. I hope the repairs aren’t too expensive.
• I am about to play in a sports tournament. I hope we win.
• We are having a family gathering. I hope everyone has a great time.

All these statements show how deep a feeling hope can be. We all live in hope, and when there is no more hope left, we just give up. Even when we have no say in the outcome, we still hope for something good—as if we were placing our hope in nothing more than good luck.

That’s everyday, human hope. But the hope that St. Paul wrote about is something different. ItR#8217;s more than wishful thinking or a set of dreams that we hope will come true some day. When Paul wrote that Christ in us is our “hope for glory,” he was talking about something much more solid and reliable than wishes and dreams. So in this article, we want to take a look at that hope—a hope founded on Jesus’ promises. We want to see how this hope can help us find Jesus’ presence in our hearts, a presence that is just the beginning of the glory he has won for us.

A Glory to Be Shared. We know what glory feels like. It’s what happens when someone wins a sporting championship. It’s what happens when a person is honored for something remarkable he or she has done. It comes to those who receive special rewards or recognition for their outstanding accomplishments.

But the glory that Jesus promises is not based on our own outstanding accomplishments. It’s based on his accomplishment. By dying and rising from the dead, Jesus has secured for us a share in his heavenly glory. He did the hard work, and we benefit from it!

It’s ironic, isn’t it? We have all been taught that all “glory, majesty, power, and authority” belong to God, not to us everyday men and women (Jude 25). But because God’s love knows no bounds, he chose to share that glory with us. We are all sinners. We don’t deserve God’s glory. Yet that is precisely what Jesus is offering us.

It’s this promise of heavenly glory, this divine gift of hope, that fuels us here on earth. It’s hope that moves us to stay close to the Lord. It’s hope that keeps our eyes fixed on the heavenly kingdom. Hope tells us that heaven will surpass our wildest dreams. In the end, hope urges us to live in holiness each day.

The Gift of Hope. Hope also tells us that it’s not all up to us. If all we had was the promise of glory, but no help in getting there, the Christian life would become a huge burden. But that’s not what God wants for us. That’s why the mystery of faith is “Christ in you, the hope for glory.” Living in our hearts, Jesus is eager to show us his glory. He asks us to turn to him in prayer, and he asks us to obey his commands and strive to love one another, because every time we do, we give him another opportunity to show himself and his glory to us.

Wherever Jesus goes, he brings blessings with him. Think of all the people he healed when he walked the earth. Think of all the people who were moved by his teaching. Think of all those he set free from sin and despair. That’s why he took on our nature—to save us from sin and fill us with his life and love. It’s also why he promised to be with us till the end of time. Jesus has such high dreams for each one of us. He loves us so much that he can’t help but bless us. He can’t help but tell us about the eternal glory that he wants to give us.

Jesus is our hope, our pledge, our promise, and our guarantee of glory. When he sacrificed himself on the cross for our sins, he told all creation, “I want my people, my Church, to be with me forever. I want everyone to share in my glory.” Now, through the gift of his Spirit, he is at work every day, seeking to make that glory so clear to us that we would be willing to devote our lives to it.

Develop Your Instincts. St. Augustine once asked, “Why climb the mountains or go down into the valleys of the world looking for him who dwells within you?” Jesus is with us. He is in us, filling us with the hope of his glory. We don’t have to search for him. We only have to follow Augustine’s guidance and look within.

So how do we become more aware of Jesus’ presence in our hearts and the glory he has promised us? By developing our God-given spiritual instincts. It’s like playing the piano. When you begin to learn a new piece of music, your attention is fixed on the notes on the page. But over time, as you become familiar with the music, you take your eyes off the page, and you let your fingers go where you know they should go. You have developed your musical instincts enough to know how to play that piece with confidence and creativity.

Similarly, in the spiritual life, we begin by carefully following every command and every sense that we feel from the Spirit. But over time, our spiritual instincts become strong enough that we don’t worry every day about doing the right thing. We know what we should do. We are accustomed to sensing the Spirit’s movements, and we have greater confidence that Christ in us is able to lead and guide us.

Disposition Matters. In 1691, a book called The Practice of the Presence of God was published. It was a collection of sayings by a lay Carmelite called Brother Lawrence, who worked in the kitchen of a monastery in Paris. The central message of the book is that experiencing God’s presence is more about disposition than it is about strict adherence to practices.

According to Brother Lawrence, people tend to “invent means and methods of coming into God’s love. They learn rules,” he said, “and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God’s presence. Yet . . . is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him? . . . What I do each day does not differ from my time of prayer. In the noise and clatter of my kitchen while several people are all calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees before the Blessed Sacrament.”

Brother Lawrence taught that everything we think and do can be a pathway to God’s presence. He felt that it’s not a matter of what we do as much as the disposition with which we do it. If we can begin to treat all of our activities as gifts that we are offering to God, we will find his presence in us, no matter what we are doing. And that discovery will fill us with joy.

Here is Brother Lawrence’s simple secret: whatever you do, do it for the Lord. Do it as if he were standing right beside you. Whether you are a construction worker, a salesperson, a student, or a retired grandfather, let everything you say and do become a gift to Jesus.

Two Lives? It’s not unusual to find ourselves living two lives. We think and act one way when we are in church, at prayer, or at Eucharistic adoration. But we can act differently when we are hard at work, relaxing with our friends, or spending time with our families. For example, at Mass we may be filled with thoughts of peace and kindness, but when we are with our friends, we may still go with the flow, even when the flow is going where Jesus doesn’t want us to go!

We were not created to live two lives! We were created to have a disposition of faith and trust and to let that disposition guide our thoughts and actions all day. We were created to carry the presence of Jesus lovingly and attentively no matter where we are or what we are doing. And we will do that if we follow Brother Lawrence’s simple advice.

So carry Jesus in your heart. Never lose sight of him. Keep saying, “Christ lives in me, and he is my hope of glory.” Take as your own the words of the psalm: “Lift up your heads, O gates . . . that the king of glory may enter” (Psalm 24:7). Open wide the portals of your heart. Welcome Jesus. Honor him. Put your hope in his promises. Let nothing hinder you from him, and his glory will fill your heart.

“Lord, I want to see you and your glory. I want to fix my eyes on the life that awaits me so that I can begin living that life right now. I know that you live in me. You are the treasure of my heart and my hope of glory!”