NGUYEN: Hope is the vaccine for our spirit

April 13, 2021

Photo by Marianne Fiedler

Alleluia! What must come has finally arrived. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, people from all corners of the world, in solidarity, have come together in prayer with hope for a cure to the coronavirus. Thanks and praise be to God for the medical researchers’ diligent works and efforts! At last, the big relief has arrived — the vaccine — it is definitely the hope for our time.

Many of us have probably received the vaccine dose(s) by now, which means we are a step closer to normalcy. What a great joy it is to see such progress! Indeed, living the year 2020 in fervent prayer and enduring hope is not in vain. Just as the vaccine is vital to our body, so is hope to our spirit, for hope is the spiritual vaccine for our soul.

“…God has given you a vaccine — hope — to protect you from the virus of depression and disappointment...” You probably have heard this assurance last month on March 5 as Pope Francis was walking toward Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad for a meeting with priests and religious.

He caught sight of a group of people with disabilities sitting outside the church. He blessed them and lovingly said to them, “Suffering and challenges are parts of human life. Do not let yourself be infected by the viruses of depression and disappointment, which are prevalently spreading around you.

God has given you a vaccine, which is hope, to protect you from those viruses. This special, spiritual vaccine is the outcome of your enduring prayer and being faithful to the apostolic works.” Wow, this is such great news!

We may be overwhelmed by life circumstances, but if we learned to place our hope in God and His words, we are spiritually vaccinated to fight against all kinds of negativity and setbacks. Although vaccines, medicines, treatments and professionals are good, and we are grateful for them, our hope in God is still first and foremost. This hope is the spiritual vaccine, which protects us from all sorts of spiritual diseases.

Let the words of God give us confidence in enduring hope: “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5); “Affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:3-5); “Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed” (Isaiah 49:23b).

When we place our hope in God, it does not mean we will not face difficulties, but our spirit is strengthened to fight against all types of physical and spiritual sickness.
Ultimately, trusting in God’s unending love and protection gives rise to enduring hope, even when life seems harsh.

Hope means we must trust God at all times through fervent prayers and patiently wait for what is still unseen. This is the key to the spiritual vaccine – hope – which saves us, as St. Paul affirms: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they have already seen?” (Romans 8:24-25).

We may have negative circumstances, but we are not worried because we know that God is fighting for our battles. In other words, the vaccine of hope will carry us through thick and thin.

Once we start living our lives believing that God is leading our faith journey to greener pastures (Psalm 23) of love and hope, we will begin to wake up every morning full of hope and new excitement, for we know that, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). So, “Pray, hope, and do not worry” (St. Padre Pio). †

Sister Maria Goretti Thuy Nguyen, OP, is an associate director with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.