Feast of our Lady of Hope – An Intermingling of the Divine and the Human Hope

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Life is a mixed bag. We experience loads of joy and tonnes of sadness. Often we have to swim against the tide. Life begins to become unpredictable like the game we call snakes and ladders. Sometime it seems that life is sinking into the dark. It is at this time of darkness that we find that even a flickering flame can bring us a glimmer of hope. Hope is a cry of entire humanity. It is the deepest longing of our hearts. We find this longing enshrined into Bradaranyaka Upanisad which prays, ‘lead me from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality’. We all find this hope and solace in God. Catholics consider Jesus Christ as their living hope. This is why Pope Francis calls Mother Mary, the mother of hope. She enables us to stay hopeful. Hope enables us to seek opportunity in a challenge. It awakens us and leads us to seek vitality and renewal of our personal and societal life. This is exactly what happens in Chichinim with the celebration of the feast of our lady of Hope. The people of Chinchinim celebrate human hope in the divine when they celebrate the feast of our Lady of Hope. Human hope is redeemed, blessed and elevated by Jesus Christ. Hence, the feast of Chinchinim becomes a simultaneous celebration of human and Christian Hope.

The word hope is used only about thirty times in the Old Testament. The New Testament, the word, elpis can be traced about sixty times. But the reality of hope breathes life into the sacred pages of the Bible. One might say that the Old Testaments hold out hope and the New Testament fulfils it. There are different words in the Old Testament for hope. Often the word trust portrays the reality of hope. Other worlds are: seek refuge in, wait for, expect, look to etc. Thus, for instance, Prophet Micah says, “as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of salvation, my God will hear me”. The New Testament becomes the fulfilment of the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Christians believe that God has saved the entire humanity in Jesus Christ. This salvation is hoped to fully arrive with the second coming of Christ. The Hope of the New Testament is the Hope of the anawim, the poor of God who does not hope in the worldly powers but hopes in God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Mother Mary is the icon of Hope of the anawim. Christian tradition looks at Icon as a sacred image which becomes a medium that allows us to stay in contact with a holy person. Mother Mary takes us to her son Jesus, our Hope. The Church from the late 11th century began to pray, ‘Hail holy queen, hail our life, our sweetness and our hope’. Holy Mary is our mother who assists us to find our path in the Christian experience of Hope. This walk into the experience of Hope begins with Baptism for every catholic. It is the Hope of the anawim, the Hope that is trying to find refuge in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Hope of yes of discipleship that mother Mary said to God. Her yes is a model of our Hope in God. It is a celebration of our salvation in Jesus Christ that mother Mary thanked God in her Magnificat. It is a profound confidence in the love, mercy and fidelity of God. It is a celebration of God's option for the lowly, the weak, and the anawim. It celebrates the anawim because in our weakness, it  opens us to the strength of God. This is why St. Paul says, ‘when I am weak then I am strong’.

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The Christian hope touches the human hope in the celebration of the feast of our Lady of Hope in Chinchinim. It brings about a fusion of the human and the divine in our Hope as people of all walks of life come to celebrate the feast. It does give expression to human longing for God. It is also a celebration of God’s hope in humanity. It is an expression of our deepest yearning for peace or shanti . It also celebrates well as God will to embrace and save humanity. The feast does not disappoint our people. It offers possibilities of a divine-human encounter which also becomes a horizontal encounter with other fellow humans. It links us to both Heaven and the Earth. Grace and joy intermingle and we find ourselves in the divine and the human embrace. Besides, this profound spiritual experience, grace also inhabits the cultural experience of the feast. The festivities continue for about ten days in Chinchinim. Festive meals abound in the catholic homes. Feast night organised drama/ tiatr in several places. The big fair of the feast attracts a lot of people. Young and old flock to the fair and enjoy themselves. The second day is dedicated to the priest sons of Chinchinim. Most of the priests from Chinchinim come home for the feast of our Lady of Hope and offer a solemn mass on the next day for the people of Chinchinim at eight in the morning. Just like most feasts in Goa the sun refuses to set on the feast our Lady of Chinchinim.

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