1. A life of expectations is a trap. A lot of people adjust their lives to the expectations of their environment. In most of the cases the expected benefit of fulfilling the expectations is gaining acceptance, sympathy and love. In our human world love quite often becomes the means of emotional blackmailing. The most dangerous expectations are those, which we have of ourselves. The distance between our expectations and reality is not anything else but the pain in ourselves. We should not consider our life goals as expectations but as desires. A man free of expectations remains self-identical. However, it is much more valuable even than this, if we do not link our desires to specific things but we let them out and long for the good in general. Longing for the good in general is hope. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)
2. The power of hope. Nowadays it is not trendy to hope. Despite of this: hope is much more than desire. Hope doesn’t wish to reach a certain goal but to increase good. Hope creates the possibility of good’s infinity in our lives. Hope delivers us from the slavery of specific goals because it breaks the wall of our egos with what is stronger than anything else in this world: the love of God. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)
3. Why is faith much more than hope? Faith is the total and unequivocal certainty in the Gospel of redemption and resurrection. That’s why faith becomes a huge power. Because faith breaks down the walls between us and God. If we live in faith, God bathes us in Himself with showering joy and shows us new and new colors of His Totality and love each day. As our faith develops, it slowly shapes the Face and Figure of God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ in us. This is how hope becomes reality. (If you would like to read more about this, please, read my essay here.)
Introduction. As I wrote in my first essay in September (http://csermelyblog.net/learning), I will go along a whole course of a spiritual retreat with my essays until summer. With the Christmas post we have arrived at the end of the first week of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: Christ may have been born within us, we may have been given places in the House of God and we may have realized that we were the Children of God. My four essays covering the second week of the spiritual retreat confronted us with our sins. Both our community sins and our own personal sins have been examined, we have thought about the conditions of our good choices, and we have answered the question what is the most important decision of our whole lives. Until the coming summer we will go along the second two weeks of the four weeks’ long spiritual retreat: praying throughout the whole earth life of Christ, our Lord.
- 22nd February: Thoughts about the Incarnation. Why Jesus cannot be sidestepped?
- 8th March: Difference between the duty and the service. Lenten thoughts about the benefits of self-sacrifice (the childhood and baptism of Jesus)
- 22nd March: What is the difference between hope and expectations? Lenten thoughts about the power of faith (teachings and miracles of Jesus)
-----------------we reached this point in our prayer--------------------------------------------------------
- 5th April: Lenten thoughts about the FORCE-field of Jesus. The power of the Eucharist
- 19th April: Cross and Glory. Good Friday and Easter thoughts about the Totality of Salvation
- 3rd May: In how many ways can we be happy about the Totality of life? Thoughts about the thousand faces of joy
- 17th May: Life situations of fulfillment: Thoughts about the joy of life's Totality
- 31st May: Forms of the presence of the Spirit. Thoughts about Holiness
- 7th June: What makes the church attractive today? Pentecost thoughts about the power of the Gospel
- 21st June: What is the difference between the word and the Word? Year-end thoughts about the power of God’s Word
1. A life of expectations is a trap
A lot of people adjust their lives to the expectations of their environment. "If I act according to my boss’s expectations I may expect a pay rise." In most of the cases though the expected benefit of fulfilling the expectations is not money or professional promotion but gaining acceptance, sympathy and love. The urge to meet the expectations very often hides the desire for love. In our human world love quite often becomes the means of emotional blackmailing. Only a "good boy/girl" deserves love. "Bad boys/girls" do not deserve love. In a world of emotional blackmailing, the category of the expected "good" is often quite varying because only uncertainty may create absolute power. Though the most evil type of expectations is not the one other people have because you can always rebel against it – and many times it happens so. The most dangerous expectations are those, which we have of ourselves. The distance between our expectations and reality is not anything else but the pain in ourselves. In a certain case the objective statement of "I have not reached what I expected of myself" may change amazingly fast to the approach of "I am not OK". The feeling of "I am not OK" may induce very soon the "you are not OK either", which results in a life full of inferiority complex and rancor.
If the urge for meeting the expectations is such a killer trap, what is the solution? Should not we make any rules? Should not we have any goals in our lives? Yes, we should! We should have rules and goals. But we should not consider our life goals as expectations but as desires. What is the difference between expectations and desires? It is the point of self-identification. If I perceive the goal as an expectation, I identify myself with the goal and not with myself who has not reached the goal yet. (Let’s think about Jesus for a moment! Who are touched by Jesus? Only the blessed ones? Not at all! It is one of the main messages of the Gospel that Jesus touches our sinful lives – as they are. So what do we do when we identify ourselves with our expectations and not ourselves? Do others deserve mercy only, and we – never? The love of God teaches us to accept ourselves, too. His endless patience and longsuffering teach us also to be patient with ourselves.) If I do not identify myself with myself, I immediately create the "I am not OK" status. If I phrase the goal as a desire and not as an expectation, I remain identical with myself. A man free of expectations remains self-identical. However, a man running after his desires is only one step ahead his poor fellow suffering in the trap of expectations. And do not think that this statement is true only for the 'guilty desires'. A man desiring different kinds of self-improvement is still trapped and he is not free -- just like his poor fellow was, who wanted to meet the expectations. I guess that the Reader has given it up at this very point. "Peter, You’ve gone crazy. Are not we allowed to long for the good???" Yes, we are. But it is MUCH MORE valuable if we do not link our desires to specific things but we let them out and long for the good in general. Longing for the good in general is hope. The next section will be about the power of hope.
2. The power of hope
We are in the Lenten period. Fast means expectations for a lot of people. I am a good Christian if I abstain from meat. Alright, I may have meat but I should redeem it with good deeds and/or prayers. Let’s think about this situation a little: do we start to bargain with God just like as Abraham plead down the number of good Sodomites to fifty, then to forty-five, then to forty, then to thirty, then to twenty and then to ten? (But it was not even that much... Genesis 18-19) We feel that it is in vain what we ourselves can do because there are enough sins left within us for the only true judging God to devastate us with equal rights as He did with Sodom, don’t we? We feel that our Lord Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is the only thing that redeems us and not we ourselves, don’t we? What is Lenten then? Is it self-purifying? Not at all! The essence of Lenten is the increase of hope within us. What is hope? This section is about that.
"Hope: a mood, a state of mind, i.e. a pleasant intuition
that is created and supported by waiting for something good that will probably happen."
"Christian interpretation: a pathos, a moral affection gained by the mercy of God
that makes us wait with absolute confidence for the eternal joy of God
through our Lord Jesus Christ’s merits".
(Hungarian Dictionary, 1862)
Let’s summarize the statements of my essay about hope so far. Hope sets us free from the traps of expectations and desires. Increase of hope is the essence of Lenten that takes us closer to God and purifies us. Can hope be such an important idea? Hope is considered a kind of romantic mood by a lot of people and identified with being unable to act. Nowadays it is not trendy to hope. Hope is much more than desire. Hope doesn’t wish to reach a certain goal but to increase good. (Let’s think about this for a moment: if I ask God for fulfil only my own specific wishes I wish to have a "remote-controlled God", as my pastor Melinda Grendorf-Balogh has recently phrased it. Thinking it over it is pretty crazy, isn’t it? Don’t we believe that God can give us more good than we can make up for ourselves? Don’t we believe that anything else can be better than we can make up? What do we think we are? A human being or God?) If good can grow only from us it will be (even in the best case!) an extremely limited good. Hope creates the possibility of good’s infinity in our lives. We may receive help to overcome our own limits. We may get that unlimited, fresh trust back that we had at the beginning of our lives. Hope is by countless dimensions more complete than a momentary mood. Hope is the state of living in the Gospel of redemption and resurrection. Hope requires humility. Humility frees us instead of restricting us. Hope delivers us from the slavery of specific goals because it breaks the wall of our egos with what is stronger than anything else in this world: the love of God.
"tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and trial hope;
and hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God
is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us" (Romans 5:3-5).
"And every one that hath this hope in him,
sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy." (1John 3:3)
Let’s taste hope as the state of living in the Gospel. Of course, a long learning process of trials is needed for the increase of hope – as Apostle Paul writes. Who has not been humbled by the omnipotence of God yet and who has not realized that he is not able to get rid of his sins by himself, is still unable to experience the Gospel of redemption and resurrection with his whole life. A human being is one of those whom only misery can make realize this. That’s why Fast is useful in the traditional sense of the word with which we "force ourselves in misery". Hope is not evolved in us by ourselves but we are given hope by the Holy Spirit as a gift of grace. Hope gives us purity, as Apostle John writes, because purity is not an inverse of getting impure but the measure of our closeness to God. The central figure of hope is Jesus Himself: the Redeemer who is the only Door leading to God (John 10:9; John 14:6).
3. Why is faith much more than hope?
"Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for,
the evidence of things that appear not." (Hebrews 11:1)
How much is faith more than hope? In the deep and true sense of the word, faith is much more than the intellectual acceptance of God’s existence. There is a reason why the essence of faith comes from the heart. Faith is the total and unequivocal certainty in the Gospel of redemption and resurrection. That’s why faith becomes a huge power. Because faith breaks down the walls between us and God. If we live in faith, God bathes us in Himself with showering joy and shows us new and new colors of His Totality and love each day. As our faith develops, it slowly shapes the Face and Figure of God’s only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ in us. This is how hope becomes reality. Amen.