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Archbishop Neary: Hope is not a false optimism

By Katie Ascough - 18 August, 2020

Archbishop Michael Neary

Archbishop Michael Neary of the Diocese of Tuam preached a hope-filled homily in the Basilica of Our Lady at Knock Shrine for the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August.

He began by reflecting on the inescapable COVID-19 pandemic, noting how at this time of year students are usually thinking about securing their places in university and how, on a more general level, uncertainty and fear surrounding employment and the economic situation have us in their grip. “All of us feel vulnerable, fragile, wonder and worry about what the future has in store. The capacity for hope is very much at issue in our society today. Hopelessness is prevalent and powerful in so many areas,” the bishop said.

However, the bishop went on to offer God’s hope through his mother, Mary, saying that the Feast of the Assumption “points to hope and a new possibility”. The bishop continued: “This feast expands our imagination from what ‘is’ to what ‘is possible’ if we are a people of hope … In life we encounter difficulties of various kinds, sufferings and trials. It may be a difficult relationship, financial burdens, emotional pain, a grave temptation or sickness. At times we are burdened and overwhelmed by the problems of the present moment and lose all sense of perspective, of the fact that we are on a journey.”

Hope, however, is the “antidote to this mentality” the bishop strongly stated. “Hope is closely related to patience which enables us to put the present in perspective. It is very easy to become dismayed by the suffering in our world, the imperfection in our Church, by our own struggles and crises.”

He explained how the Feast of the Assumption is a “lasting source and sign of hope, a promise of future glory for the whole Church of which Mary is the supreme example” and how all of Jesus’ faithful followers will share Mary’s destiny of Heaven. “The glimpse of future glory which we get on this feast should inspire within us a profound attitude of comfort and hope,” the bishop said. 

“Hope is not a false optimism,” the bishop stated, as if to preempt the pessimist’s objection. “It does not underestimate the challenges we face or ignore the setbacks we experience. Hope enables us to adopt an honest and critical analysis of where we find ourselves today. Hope commits us to pursuing the truth and does not leave us enslaved by our own failures or the decadence of society. Hope reminds us that the future is open and there will be further developments that look forward to new opportunities. This feast of the Assumption of Our Lady is a reminder therefore of the significance of hope as we cope with the challenges confronting us today,” the bishop concluded.

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