Spirituality for Today – July 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 12

Four to the Royal

Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

A photo of dice and money

Glitz is everywhere! Entering a casino ushers you into an otherworldly experience. One might describe it as an adult amusement park. The atmosphere is gaged to provide a scene of fun and excitement. Thousands of multi-colored slot machines and rows of table games invite you to seek your fortune. Time disappears – there are no clocks in casinos – and so do weather and day and night. You are invited to join the throng and loose yourself in having fun. Money transforms into chips or credits. Immersed among hundreds of people, strangely, you feel that you are alone. A tribute, I suppose to the focus and intensity of your mission. Although you are aware that the odds are against you (the House Advantage) and that all of the luxurious adornments around you are not the result of people winning, you still pursue the possibility of hitting a jackpot. In the words of one casino executive, "We sell hope."

In respect to nations, this hope is a valuable commodity. In the glitz surrounding our celebration of the Fourth of July, we celebrate the hope that is called the "American Dream." In nations that have suffered oppression by a foreign power, hope means freedom. Among the momentous words of leaders of nations and of faith, we discover the great dimensions of what that word hope means. In the book, Speeches that Changed the World, I share this excerpt from Pope St. John Paul II speaking to the Polish people:

Perhaps, at times we envy the French, the Germans, or the Americans because their name is not tied to such a historical price and because and because they are so easily free: while our Polish freedom costs so much. My dear ones, I will not make a comparative analysis. I will only say that it is what costs that constitutes value. It is not, in fact, possible to be truly free without an honest and profound relationship with values. We do not want a Poland that costs nothing. We watch, instead, beside all that make up the authentic inheritance of the generations, seeking to enrich it. A nation, then, is first of all rich in its people. Rich in man. Rich in youth. Rich in every individual who watches in the name of truth it is truth, in fact, that gives form to love.

Pope St. John Paul II

What of the Church and our evangelizing effort? Are we not sellers of hope? Yes, but also proclaimers of that type of faith, hope, and love that leads to the greatest of jackpots – the Kingdom of God. There is an energy that hope gives and a destiny that is clear and eternal. We tend not to think of life as a gamble, but we ought to realize that there is no guarantee that any day will turn out as we imagine. As the years of life pass, as does our experience of living it, we reflect on the attainment of our goals or the lack of attaining them leading to feelings of elation or disappointment. Nevertheless, Saint Paul's reminder that faith, hope, and love last forever resounds in the heart of the believer and strengthens his will. With hope in the promises of Christ, a faithful person has the odds stacked in his favor. Hope is healing. The rough and tumble of life can raise us to the heights or plunge us to the depths. Hope founded in faith brings us to a point of recovery of spirit and of perseverance. Life is put into perspective before the Truth of Christ and to where that Truth leads.

Neither bells and whistles, nor fireworks attract us to the source of our hope, but it is revealed in the words and actions of the Savior. There can be no greater feeling of being a winner than knowing that our souls are in the hand of God and that we live in love of him. If a casino player enjoys video poker, every once in a while he is dealt four cards to a Royal Flush. He holds the four cards and hits the deal button in hopes that the card needed for the Royal Flush will appear. In video poker, the Royal Flush is the biggest jackpot one can achieve. I wonder when the end of life is near that we shall envision all the faith, love, mercy and hope possessed by our life in Christ in our hand and we shall hold all those "cards" in anticipation of winning the ultimate jackpot. Be hopeful! As Saint Paul says, "Hope will not leave us disappointed." Our hope is rooted in the love of God for us and that love gives our hopes the encouragement and assurance we need.