Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(Revelation 15:1-4; Psalm 98; Luke 21:12-19)
“Non sequitur” is a Latin expression that means a conclusion does not follow from the evidence given. Listening to Jesus in the gospel, one might think that “not a hair on your head will be destroyed” is a non sequitur. From all that Jesus warns about the seizure and persecution of his followers, it sounds contradictory to predict that their coiffures will not be upset. But Jesus has something else in mind when he gives this assurance. He means that faithful Christians will receive eternal life when they risk giving testimony to him in the world.
The passage indicates the difference between optimism and hope. It is sometimes thought that the two words carry more or less the same meaning, but this is not the case. Optimism is an attitude that expects every situation to turn out rosy. It overlooks the possibility of any harm with a sunny disposition. Hope, in contrast, recognizes suffering as part of the human condition but sees deliverance, in the long run at least, coming from the person in whom hope is placed. Hope is not as self-reliant as optimism, nor is it so sure that relief is around the corner.
In facing trials – whether persecution for the faith, debilitating sickness, or other threats to well-being – we hope in Jesus. He promises to deliver us from harm when we stand by him. The surety of deliverance does not preclude the possibility of suffering, but our confidence in Jesus is ratified by his resurrection from the tomb.