(Monday, July 1)

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” (Rom 8:22-25)

Hope, like faith, focuses on things not seen, as we all know. But St. Paul also reminds us that hope is something difficult, requiring “perseverance”; something that involves “groaning and laboring with birth pangs together,” as we “eagerly await the adoption, the redemption of our body (τοῦ σώματος ἡμῶν).

This morning, I’m grateful to St. Paul for offering us this invigorating image of our common hope, in which we as Christians are called to participate. It takes work, to persevere in hope. We need to nourish our common hope, for the transfiguration of “our body” in our new birth from above, which is already under way, as we “groan” in our Spirit-filled lives in Christ, as Church. And the Spirit even “groans” with us, as St. Paul says next, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom 8:26)

Let us participate today in the common hope of “the whole creation,” because each of us is dignified with the call to do this important work in our world, actively to fill it with hope. Today there are many voices that present to us a hope-less picture of ourselves and our world, which to their minds is going to hell in a handbasket. But let us not waste time, bemoaning ourselves and our world. Let us rather take up “groaning and laboring” with the birth pangs of hope.