Imprisoned by hope

Probably we notice the dynamic running through the forty days of Easter. First, there is the time of apparitions when Jesus consoles his friends by showing himself to them risen from the dead.

Then there was the ‘consolidation’ phase when the disciples exercise their faith by going out, ‘starting from Jerusalem’, and proclaiming the good news in the cities around the Mediterranean. Finally there is the period we are entering now where we notice promises on the way to fulfilment. The disciples ‘give an account of what God had done and how he had opened the door of faith (Acts), was making ‘all things new’ (Revelations) and the suffering Son of Man was ‘glorified’ – not just in rising from the dead – but in the total fulfilment ‘soon’ of the plan of God for his people (John).

I was reminded of this dynamic when I read a sermon preached by the late Fr Gilbert Modikayi Chawasema at the state funeral of Leopold Takawira on the 11 August 1982. Modikayi used the expression, ‘Imprisoned by Hope’ more than once. Let me summarise his words. ‘Takawira was a distinguished Zimbabwean patriot who, together with other nationalists, tried to change the socio-economic situation. This led to great personal suffering and considerable material loss. He put at stake everything and died as result of restrictions and imprisonment.’

‘His death’, Modikayi continues, ‘remind one of the “futile” death of John the Baptist.  Back in 1970, one can imagine Takawira and his family wondering whether it had been worth his while to stake everything for social change, which, at the time of his death, seemed remote.  Takawira, like many others, became a prisoner of an ultimate hope for better things. He was a follower of the one who said, “Greater love than this no man has than that he should lay down his life for his friends.” This Christian way of life involves a self-forgetful concentration on the true well-being of others and so to live and love in the agelong purpose of transforming the world towards ever more perfect humanization and divinization.’

‘The danger to which we are all open’, Modikayi concluded, ‘is that we may fail to be fully dedicated to the wonderful Christian vision of the dignity of man and the purpose of the world. As we gather here to commend Takawira, we are challenged by that ultimate hope which imprisoned him and made him dedicate his life for his countrymen. To be a Christian is to be alive, and to be human in this world and to help other men and women to see what we are.’

May 15, 2022              Easter Sunday 5C       Acts 14:21-27      Rev 21:1-5       Jn 13:31-35

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