‘Contain chaos and offer hope’


Noah held tightly to God’s promise of hope while riding out the storm of chaos in his ark. “I will recall the covenant I have made between you and me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings,” God assures Noah (Genesis 9:8-15).

We, too, seem to be riding out a storm of chaos, manifested in the suffering of Texans overwhelmed by natural and manmade disasters, our pandemic fatigue, grief over lives lost or changed because of COVID-19, political alienation, isolation and economic challenges. “We can and must offer hope to our society, to our world,” Father Apo Mpanda said in his homily for the first Sunday of Lent. “As Christians, we are called to contain chaos and offer hope.”

God chose to contain chaos and offer hope in his promise to Noah. Jesus chose to contain the chaos of the world in which he lived and proclaimed hope in the form of the kingdom of God. “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:12-15). The theological virtue of hope, with the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit, keeps us from discouragement. It sustains us in times of abandonment; it preserves us from selfishness and leads us to the happiness that flows from charity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1818). Hope is an action verb.

We contain chaos and offer hope in a myriad of ways. Father Mpanda provided excellent examples for our call to action:


• Married couples contain chaos and offer hope each time they work to overcome their problems by engaging in sincere dialogue and mutual concern.

• Individuals who work for peace and justice, who serve the poor, contain chaos and offer hope.

• Parents who make sacrifices every day to offer a better life for their children contain chaos and offer hope.

• Catechists for children and for adults who teach the love of God contain chaos and offer hope for future generations.• Police officers, firefighters and first responders who commit themselves to keeping the community safe from chaos, contain chaos and offer hope.

• The sick and the dying who accept with courage their condition in anticipation of the final resurrection preach a sermon of hope.

We may be among the people in the examples Father Mpanda shared in his homily. Whatever roles we fill in our lives today, we must ask ourselves, “How is the Holy Spirit calling us to contain chaos and offer hope?” This season of Lent involves three practices that can serve as a template for our call to contain chaos and offer hope: Pray, fasting and almsgiving.

We contain chaos and offer hope by praying for those who are suffering, such as the Texans struggling with failed utilities, the COVID-19 victims, the unemployed and the underemployed, healthcare workers and other frontline workers, the poor and the hungry, the marginalized.

We contain chaos and offer hope through almsgiving — donate to agencies that serve people in need — but also advocate for just and fair laws that serve the common good. Recent legislative initiatives in Iowa appear to move away from the common good. Please contact our Iowa legislators to pass bills that support our right to vote, provide equitable education for children, work to eliminate systemic racism, and reject the death penalty. Advocate for prompt approval of unemployment benefits for people who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Convince our legislators to reject legislation that requires the unemployed to jump through hoops to receive food stamps and that adds another layer of bureaucracy to validate identification of Medicaid recipients, a process already well vetted.

We contain chaos and offer hope when we fast from vindictiveness, when we choose to listen patiently to someone whose viewpoints differ from our own. We fast from selfishness by waiting patiently to receive the vaccine to protect us from the coronavirus, by wearing masks in public to protect others and ourselves during this agonizingly long pandemic. We fast from animosity by taking a break from polarizing social media outlets. We fast from a food item that helps us to discipline our physical hunger so that we can recognize our hunger for God, as Bishop Robert Barron advises.

Vivid images of the rusty red rocky terrain of Mars that the rover Perseverance is capturing puts us in awe and takes us away, even momentarily, from the chaos of the present time. The human ingenuity that makes this in-depth planet exploration possible points our way toward the capacity we have, as children of God, to contain chaos and offer hope.

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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