A hopeful New Year

Source: A hopeful New Year

Pope Benedict XVI, who lies between death and burial, once wrote a letter on hope which he called Spe Salvi, we are saved by hope (Rom 8:24). Is this new year going to give us grounds for hope – or more of its opposite, despair? Benedict was writing just before the money collapse of 2008 yet his words spoke of a hope more solid than Wall Street.


He began his letter by remembering a poor Sudanese girl who was wrenched from her family in Darfur while still nine years old and sold into slavery five times. Constantly beaten and abused, ‘she bore 144 scars throughout her life.’ In 1882, when she was thirteen, she was ransomed by an Italian merchant and brought to Italy where she entered a totally new life where she was respected and cared for. It took her time to adjust to this new reality but gradually she gained confidence – she gained hope – and came to know God and, what is far more, that he knew her and loved her. Josephine Bakhita went on to become a nun and eventually a saint and, besides her work with the sisters, she spent her days telling others of her liberation through her encounter with God through the good people who helped her.

‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for; the conviction of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). Each of us has their interpretation of our situation in Zimbabwe and our hope for this year. For many there is little hope. It will be just more of the same. The results of the elections are already known. And so, many people just shrug their shoulders and get on with life as best they can. They have lost hope that things might change for the better.

But if we have such an attitude, we are ignoring our Christian heritage, all that we received through our different churches and religions. We may feel as hopeless as Josephine in her days of slavery, but to sit on our hands and accept it is to ‘prefer darkness to light’ (John 3:19).

Hope is not about idly waiting and ‘hoping’ something will happen. It is about changing my way of thinking and exploring every moment as an opportunity to bring light into the world. I cannot change the way things are done in this country but the way I think, speak and act can create, what Bobby Kennedy used to call, a ‘ripple of hope’ that can spread out and inspire others to create their own ripples. And that is what Nelson Mandela did when in prison: he began by insisting on wearing long trousers and he went on to become president of a free country.

New Year 2023      Num 6:22-27         Gal 4:4-7        Lk 2:16-21