“For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.”
It was last Sunday morning, but instead of feeling the joy of the Lord's day, my mind was consumed with thoughts of doom. Fittingly it was also the feast day of Sts. Simon and Jude, the latter saint being the patron of hopeless causes, and indeed my plate seemed full of them. Of course, there were bills (and not enough money to pay them), abortion (alas, the Aurora clinic remained open), the election (my guy Huckabee's getting little respect and even less press), and relations (last night's Halloween party, where, despite the hilarity, the recent break-up of my sister-in-law after 30-plus years of marriage, loomed heavy). And I didn't even mention the Notre Dame football team...
That is why today's daily mass reading from Romans couldn't have come at a more opportune time. While the daily readings, like the saint of the day, are always appropriate (last week when the California wildfires continued to spread, we not only had the passage from Luke 12:49-53 telling us how Jesus came to set the earth on fire, but it was followed up by Luke 13:1-5 which warned us that while God has the power to use natural disasters to punish, that is not necessarily the case) for me the timing of the reading from Romans proved uncanny. St. Paul's promise of hope not only helped me to recall how the Lord had guided the O'Tooles' through many lean times in the past, but was proof that the grace we received by enduring those dark days not only strengthened our marriage, but could provide comfort for Jeanette's sister and her daughters through their present times of trial. And while the Aurora clinic did open, viewing the pictures from Saturday's rally (their biggest one yet) demonstated to me how Planned Parenthood's prediction that the protesters would grow weary of these displays and go back to their "regular lives" rings hollow. Instead it showed that our faith IS our life, and, because of this hope, we will never give up on the fight.
Speaking of fight, the biggest Fighting Irish news during the team's off-week concerned a huge hole developing near the luggage compartment of a plane carrying a ND fan, and his giant bag of Irish memorabilia being sucked out. Miraculously not only was the flight righted and no one injured, but the bag was found and returned to Howard Berman, its rightful owner and Florida state's attorney who was flying home after attending the ND-USC blowout.
Of course, Howard's cynical comment to his sister (who worried the stuffed duffel bag might hurt someone after hurtling down from the plane) made headlines. "It's Notre Dame!" he assured sis. "It can't hurt anybody because it can't hit anybody!"
All kidding aside, let me say this to would-be ND fan Berman. I'm glad you are safe and alsogot your bag back intact, but know that this occurance could be a wake-up call. Remember how USC had a scary flight on the way into South Bend, not only causing them to pray as a team for the first time in ages, but later inspired them to hand our Irish its worst Trojan loss ever. So perhaps you should forward some of those in-flight prayers you said when you too were worried toward the upcoming ND-Navy game, or you and your baggage might not be so lucky next time. In other words, Howard, if you don't take Romans 8:18-24 to heart, the Lord might treat you to a Luke 13:1-4 instead. Just in case, I wouldn't walk under any leaning towers anytime soon.