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Prophetic Hope
Prophetic Hope

Remembering Our Hope

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Richard Rohr reflects on the prophetic task of integrating our individual and collective memories, which creates the conditions for hope within us:

Memory is very often the key to understanding. Memory integrates, reconciles, and puts the individual members into perspective as a part of the whole. For us to recognize what God is doing and therefore who God is, we must pray like Paul “that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience” (Philippians 1:9).

Our remembrance that God has remembered us will be the highway into the future, the straight path of the Lord promised by John the Baptizer [see Luke 3:3–6]. Where there is no memory, there will be no pain, but neither will there be hope. Memory is the basis of both the pain and the rejoicing. We need to re-member both of them; it seems that we cannot have one without the other. Do not be too quick to “heal all of those memories,” unless that means also feeling them deeply and taking them all into our salvation history. God seems to be calling us to suffer the whole of reality, to remember the good along with the bad. Perhaps that is the course of the journey toward new sight and new hope. Memory creates a readiness for salvation, an emptiness to receive love, and a fullness to enjoy it.

Only in an experience and a remembering of the good do we have the power to stand against this death [caused by evil]. As Baruch tells Jerusalem, we must “rejoice that you are remembered by God” [5:5]. In that remembrance we have new sight, and the evil can be absorbed and blotted out.

It takes a prophet of sorts, one who sees clearly, one who has traveled the highway before, one who remembers everything, to guide us beyond our blocked, selective, and partial remembering: “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever” [Baruch 5:1]. Choose your friends carefully and listen to those who speak truth to you and help you remember all things.

Ask God for companions (sometimes Jesus alone!) who will walk the highway of remembering with you, filling in the valleys and leveling the mountains and hills, making the winding ways straight and the rough ways smooth. Then humankind shall see the salvation of God.

The repentance that the Baptist calls us to is one of remembering, and of remembering together, and then bearing the consequences of that remembrance. It is no easy matter, for the burden of re-membering is great. But we must try for the sake of truth.

So “Up Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and see” your whole life. See what God has given freely. [Our] hope lies hidden in the past. “And rejoice that you are remembered by God.”

Reference: Richard Rohr, Near Occasions of Grace (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1993), 3–5.

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Alma Thomas, White Daisies Rhapsody (detail), 1973, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Snoopy—Early Sun Display on Earth (detail), 1970, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Alma Thomas, Snow Reflection on Pond (detail), 1973, acrylic on canvas, Smithsonian. Click here to enlarge image.

A rainbow hope, curved and welcoming, bends toward the horizon.

Story from Our Community:  

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