“Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to lift yourself to Me.”
Words of Jesus to Faustina recounted in her Diary, par. 1485
The pairing of these two seemingly unrelated words, Challenge and Hope, comes from hearing today’s readings in the light of God’s Mercy. Imagine the scene at the Jordon. Soldiers and tax collectors – two of the most hated groups of people to the Jews – were joining in with the common people asking the Baptist, “What should we do?” That question is not without Hope. Simultaneously, there is a readiness to accept whatever Challenge the Baptist gives them. Read the words of Jesus to Faustina again and hear them with the hearts of the people at the Jordon. Should we not see ourselves the same as them, hearing the words of Hope and Challenge, as we pass through the Holy Doors of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Divine Mercy?
Shout for joy! Sing joyfully! Be glad and exult with all your heart! The Lord has removed the judgment against you! These words of Zephaniah are filled with Hope and promise for the Mercy of God. Fear not! Be not discouraged! The Lord your God, is in your midst! These words are full of Challenge to recognize the Mercy of God already in our midst.
If we have difficulty tuning our ears to these words of Hope and Challenge we need only recognize our helplessness. Jesus recognizes it. He is ready to help. That is our Hope. We need only make the first move. That is our Challenge.
St. Paul’s words now have more meaning. When we make the first move and experience Jesus’ help, it is cause to Rejoice in the Lord! Our Hope is fulfilled and he tells us that our kindness (the Challenge) shall be known to all.
Like the people of the Jordon, if we but make the first move toward the Hope of Jesus’ promise, He will help us live the Challenge of His Divine Mercy. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.