Week of Proper 21: Monday, Year 1   18 comments

Above:  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (In Office 1933-1945)

Image in the Public Domain

Having Hope When That is Difficult

OCTOBER 2, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Zechariah 8:1-8 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

The word of the LORD of Hosts came [to me]:

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

I am very jealous for Zion; I am fiercely jealous for her.

Thus said the LORD:

I have returned to Zion, and I will dwell in Jerusalem.  Jerusalem will be called the city of Faithfulness, and the mount of the LORD of Hosts the Holy Mount.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

There shall yet be of old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age.  And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

Though it will seem impossible to the remnant of this people in those days, shall it also be impossible to Me?

–declares the LORD of Hosts.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts:

I will rescue My people from the lands of the east and from the lands of the west, and I will bring them home to dwell in Jerusalem.  They shall be My people, and I will be their God–in truth and sincerity.

Psalm 102:11-22 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

11  My days pass away like a shadow,

and I wither like grass.

12  But you, O LORD, endure for ever,

and your Name from age to age.

13  You will arise and have compassion on Zion,

for it is time to have mercy upon her;

indeed, the appointed time has come.

14  For your servants love her very rubble,

and are moved to pity even for her dust.

15  The nations shall fear your Name, O LORD,

and all the kings of the earth your glory.

16  For the LORD will build up Zion,

and his glory will appear.

17  He will look with favor on the prayer of the homeless;

he will not despise their plea.

18  Let this be written for a future generation,

so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD.

19  For the LORD looked down from his holy place on high;

from the heavens he beheld the earth;

20  That he might hear the groan of the captive

and set free those condemned to die;

21  That they may declare in Zion the Name of the LORD,

and his praise in Jerusalem;

22  When the peoples are gathered together,

and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD.

Luke 9:46-50 (The Jerusalem Bible):

An argument started between them [the Apostles] about which of them was the greatest.  Jesus knew what thoughts were going through their minds, and he took a little child and set him by his side and said to them,

Anyone who welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.  For the least among you all, that is the one who is great.

John spoke up.


he said,

we saw a man casting out devils in your name, and spoke because he is not with us we tried to stop him.

But Jesus said to him,

You must not stop him:  anyone who is not against you is for you.


The Collect:

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Franklin Delano Roosevelt, former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 1920 election, came down with polio in 1921.  The disease carried a great stigma in those days, so FDR’s career seemed over.  Surely he would spend the rest of his days as a wealthy and paralyzed person.  But his future held the following events:

  • Election as Governor of New York in 1928
  • Re-election in 1930
  • Election as President of the United States in 1932
  • Re-election in 1936, 1940, and 1944
  • Leadership of the nation during the Great Depression and almost all of World War II

All of this was the lot of a man who could not pick himself off the floor when he fell out of his wheelchair.  Yet none of it would have occurred if he had not pursued higher office and others, especially his wife, Eleanor, had not supported him.

Sometimes it is difficult to have hope, for the darkness seems overwhelming.  (I know this fact from a time in my life, albeit a period far less dramatic than 1921-1928 for FDR.)  But there is always hope, if we will grasp it.  And we are not alone; we have God and fellow human beings to help us.  We are not lone wolves and we need not pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.  Rather, we need to do the best we can and rely on our support systems for the rest.  The dependence is mutual, for we lean on others, who, in turn, rely on us.

The reading from Zechariah and the matching portion of Psalm 102 speak of future hope.  Nothing is impossible with God, Zechariah tells us.  In the meantime, the process of restoration, aided by Persian kings and their agents, had begun.  There was a long way yet to go, but at least the process had begun.  So the imperative was to be patient and remain faithful, confident that members of a subsequent generation would witness the fulfillment of the prophecy.

This ethic requires one to think past the desire for instant gratification and the quick fix.  There is no quick fix in this situation, Zechariah says, but there is a fix.  It is in God’s hands, so people ought to leave it there.

Franklin Roosevelt never walked on his own power again, but he helped the United States survive the Great Depression without a revolution.  He gave hope to many people, thereby enabling them to keep going during difficult times.  Hope is a valuable commodity, and hopelessness is devastating.  The latter is, in fact, a major cause of suicide.

Of course, I write these words in a condition of relative comfort.  This sentiment of hopefulness is easy for me to espouse, some might say.  And it is, but I have known very dark times and suicidal feelings, on which I was too terrified to act.  By grace, including human support, I have emerged from the darkness.  My time in darkness strengthened my faith and reminded me that life is a precious gift.  There is always hope, I have learned; all I need to do is grasp it while trusting in God and following this hope in community.

This hope, channeled via people, comes from God, in whom those society considers the least are the greatest.  This hope comes from God, who disregards distinctions to which we gravitate and according to which we define ourselves.  So this hope threatens many people.  This fact indicates the presence of a sin and impels the necessity of repentance–the act of turning around and changing one’s mind.

This hope, however, appeals to those who need it most and who do not hold on to erroneously-based identifications.  It appeals to those who cling to God, who is the only acceptable crutch.

Yes, there is always hope, but we cannot carry our illusions when we walk with the aid of the crutch that is God.  We must lighten our loads during our pilgrimages of faith.  May we do so.



18 responses to “Week of Proper 21: Monday, Year 1

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