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25th of February 2018

Moral Values

Our Reasons for Hope

Back in the 1870s, at a mental institution near Boston, a young girl known as “Little Annie” was locked up in a cage down in the basement. Not only was she partially blind as a result of an infection, but the doctors had declared her to be hopelessly insane and incapable of a normal life—and since there was nothing they could do for her, they kept her isolated from the other inmates. However, there was an elderly nurse who believed in the dignity and value of all God’s children, and who felt she should try to do something for Little Annie, even though the girl would sometimes attack anyone who entered the cage, and other times completely ignore those who came to see her. Not letting this discourage her, the nurse began doing something very simple: every day she came and ate her lunch outside Annie’s cage, hoping her presence would indicate her love and interest. Annie gave her no acknowledgement, but the nurse didn’t give up. One day the nurse brought some brownies and left them outside the cage for Annie; the girl ignored them, but when the nurse came the next day, the brownies were gone—so the nurse began bringing some sort of treat for Little Annie every day. Soon afterwards the doctors noticed a significant change in Annie’s behavior; she was greatly improved, so they moved her upstairs with the other patients. She continued to get better, and finally the day came when this “hopeless case” was told she could go home (Illustrations Unlimited, p. 289). As she went on with her life, Little Annie never forgot what a kind and caring nurse had done for her, and decided she wanted to spend her life helping others in the same way. She became an instructor for the blind, developed new techniques for teaching the blind and the disabled, and helped promote the American Foundation for the Blind. However, Little Annie—whose full name was Anne Sullivan, and who was later called “The Miracle Worker”—was best known as the instructor of a blind and deaf girl named Helen Keller. Her supposedly hopeless life became a source of great help and inspiration to many people—all because an elderly nurse believed in her dignity and value, and took the time to act upon this belief. In the same way, there may be times in our lives when hope is in short supply; nevertheless, Jesus personally believes in each one of us—and His presence can make all the difference.

Fears, worries, and depression have always been part of the story of humanity; people in every age of history, and in virtually every circumstance of life, have at times struggled to find reasons for hope. The words of Job (7:1-4, 6-7) speak of the drudgery of life, of troubled nights and months of misery; Job had suffered terrible misfortune, and was convinced he would not see happiness again. Many people in Our Lord’s day also suffered—perhaps not so dramatically as Job, but their lives were far from easy (and they would consider our lifestyles as lavish and worthy of royalty). That’s why Jesus’ presence among them had such a great impact; through His miracles, exorcisms, and teachings, He offered hope; the Gospel (Mk 1:29-39) He preached truly was good news for people desperately in need of grace and encouragement. That’s why everyone was looking for Him when He went off to pray; that’s why the people wanted Him to stay with them—but as He said, His mission required Him to preach in the other villages, too. In his first Letter to the Corinthians (9:16-19, 22-23), St. Paul had a similar dedication to his mission; instead of seeking any personal benefit, he wanted to share the Gospel with as many people as possible because he knew of the world’s desperate need for salvation. This same need exists more urgently than ever at the beginning of the 21st century.

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