By Maria Lucia Vianna

As we reflect on the virtue of hope, which is manifested in the Christ Child, let us take Mary as our model. She is our greatest example of this virtue. After being filled with the Holy Spirit, she accepted God’s will for her and never despaired.

For many centuries, Israel maintained a great hope in God and in a Savior who was to come and deliver it from the hands of its oppressors. But as great as was this hope, we also know that the people oftentimes were unfaithful and that they adored idols and disobeyed the word of God as it was spoken through his prophets. Consequently, the Israelites would become disheartened and fall into despair. But, this was not true of Mary. She coupled her will to the immense grace the Lord had bestowed upon her in choosing her to be the Mother of Jesus.

Today we live in a materialistic culture devoid of Christian values. With an emphasis on the temporary and disposable, it takes away all hope and generates individual and general insecurity. The presence of Mary becomes an example of hope and important in helping us reject materialism.

MARY’S LIFE WAS FULL OF HOPE

Mary’s "FIAT’ was an definite and affirmative "yes" answer to God’s proposed plan for her life. By her response and steady faithfulness, she gave us an example of faith, hope, and charity as well as confidence in the Lord.

Mary accepted God’s plan for her life only knowing that she would be the mother of the promised Savior but without knowing how this promise would develop. Many surprises followed: the discomfort and poverty of his birth in Bethlehem, the prophecy of Symeon, the flight to Egypt, the hidden life endured in Nazareth. Yet she didn’t despair. But, "as for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Lk 2:19).

Mary always showed her trust in the Lord despite outward circumstances. Her life was an immense hymn of heavenly hope. From the conception of Jesus until the loneliness of his Cross, Mary’s life was an extended testimony of firm hope in God. She never despaired.

OUR TESTIMONY

As sons and daughters of God, we are expected to be witnesses of hope to a hopeless world. This must be the focal point in our work of evangelization, in our ministries, and in our teachings. Lack of hope signifies infidelity. Our Father loves us. He gave Jesus, his only son, to die for us and continues to pour out his mercy every day of our lives. Lack of hope, therefore, would mean that we are not willing to respond to God's plan of salvation for us.

As sons and daughters of God, we are called to be faithful and holy. Because of our decision for Jesus, we understand that it is impossible to serve him or to take up a ministry without a consecrated and profound search for holiness and intimacy with the Lord. This is a question of fidelity and fidelity includes trust and hope in the Lord.

MARY’S PRAYER

Mary is also our model intercessor, as she is our model of hope. In our needs, we can trust that the intercession of Mary will reach heavens and open the way to unexpected solutions. We saw this happen at the Wedding at Cana (Jn 2), when Mary placed herself between her son and her people, and interceded on their behalf "They have no wine" (Jn 2:3). Even after the reluctant answer Jesus gives her, she says to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you". (Jn 2:4), She is hopeful and trusting that he will not reject her request. And he does not.

Mary, the servant of the Lord, was elected by the Father and supported by the Spirit to accomplish the mission given her. At the foot of the Cross, she became the Mother of all humanity, our model of hope, and our advocate, always giving us hope of salvation.

Mary teaches us to pray the rosary. And the rosary is a prayer of hope.

The Incarnation, which we pray in the Joyful mysteries, is the fulfillment of the great messianic hope. The Sorrowful mysteries, and especially the Passion, is the price of our Redemption and gives us hope in God despite our sins. The Glorious Mysteries confirm the aspiration of Christians; the hope for heaven and the glories we are promised. "Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. 'Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.' (Heb 10:23). 'The Holy Spirit . . . he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.' (Titus 3:6-7)." (Catechism 1817)

THE UNITY OF ALL CHRISTIANS

Mary is also our hope for unity between all Christians. She is the hope of humanity as she intercedes for all people, especially non-Christians, so that they may come to know Jesus as their Savior and God. In Lumen Gentium we are invited to trust the unity of Christians to Our Lady. May the Mother of all humanity, exalted in Heaven above the angels and the saints, intercede for us all in the communion of the saints. As in the first community where the presence of Mary promoted union of hearts when they met to pray, may her intercession today join Christians of all denominations in one heart and mind.

Peace and unity are the objects of the hope of the Church. They are the gifts of the Holy Spirit for which we may ask through the intercession of Mary. Her intercession, full of hope, will always support us on our way to the Father.

Elizabeth, her cousin, proclaimed: "Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled’ (Lk 1:45). When we believe these words and take Mary as our model, we become the prophets of hope, which the world so desperately needs.

Let us ask Mary, Our Lady of Hope, to help us avoid every attitude against hope. Let us ask Mary to help us be faithful to the graces the Lord has granted us. May we turn to her in joy and gratitude for being the Mother, who shows us the way to heaven through her son, Jesus.

Mrs. Maria Lucia Vianna represents Brazil on the ICCRS Council. This article was condensed from Mary, Model of Hope. 1998 ICCRS Newsletter, Vatican City. Used by permission.

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