Rediscovering Hope in a Dying World

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The closer technology gets to answering humanity’s hope for immortality, the further we get from the faith that offers it to us. Paradoxically, in the process, technology’s given us many more ways to destroy ourselves.

With all the unintended consequences human intelligence has unleashed, many fear the end is near. You’d think that would bring us closer to God, but according to a recent Gallup poll, faith—or at least, religious observation—is on the decline. Americans’ membership in houses of worship dropped below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. As a result, thousands of places of worship are closing their doors for good. Or for bad.

Unfortunately, if that’s true, this Sunday’s Mass readings won’t be seen by the ones who need them most—those without faith OR hope. If they were, those souls might find inspiration in the first reading from Daniel (Dn 12:1-3). It invites us to apply our intelligence toward tapping an underutilized and abundant source of hope: wisdom.

“But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever.”

Such leaders have found strength in the gospels over the years, and that strength has helped them deliver the wisdom the people of this world need. Through Sunday’s reading from Mark’s gospel (Mk 13:24-32), Jesus has spoken to each succeeding generation about the need to separate from the seasonality of this world and to unite with the constancy of God’s word.

“Learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

That Gallup study DID conclude with a bit of hope that a new generation of leaders will rediscover the wisdom of divine truth and be God’s word for this starving world. Majorities among the younger people polled told Gallup they were drawn to spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers, and that these programs were leading them to community outreach and volunteer opportunities.

Our best hope is that God’s immortal words filtered through the Gospels will give new life to those wise enough to listen to them.

–Tom Andel

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