An invitation to hope: What have you got to lose?

The risen Christ is depicted in the painting “Resurrection” by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. Easter, the chief feast in the liturgical calendars of all Christian churches, commemorates Christ’s resurrection from the dead. (CNS/Bridgeman Images)

Hope is a concept we can speak about blithely until everything falls apart. It’s when troubles abound that we find out how much we need the unshakeable hope that’s rooted in Christ and His triumph over sin and death.

Joyce Coronel is a regular contributor to The Catholic Sun and author of “Cry of Ninevah.” Opinions expressed are the writers’ and not necessarily the views of The Catholic Sun or the Diocese of Phoenix.

The Easter message points us to the reality of God’s love for all mankind, even in the midst of its treachery, even in the midst of its foolish notion that faith is for fanatics or chumps or the delusional. Sometimes, it’s on the brink of losing everything we realize that only by surrendering ourselves to Christ and the cross will we find true hope, peace and ultimately, joy.

David Argano knows this lesson well because he’s lived it. A cradle Catholic, he’d walked away from the Church. Every morning as he retrieved the newspaper from his driveway, his neighbor, Bernie Capulong, would invite him to daily Mass. “Nah. That’s my wife’s thing,” David would reply.

Things were not going well in David’s life back then. He lost his house and was out of work for about a year. His wife, Rebecca, invited him to join her at church. He responded with a profanity-laced comment. “Don’t you have any hope?” she asked him. He answered succinctly: “No.” Years later, the memories of that conversation linger.

“She should have left me at that point,” David says.

He sat up late one night, looking over his life insurance policy, contemplating suicide, wondering if his family would still be covered.

Then one day, David’s wife decided she’d had enough. “I’m done,” she told Bernie’s wife, who promptly told her husband that he’d better do something to help David. Fast.

Bernie, who’d had his own faith resurrected after losing almost everything, invited David to lunch to talk things over. He brought along fellow stalwart Catholic, Rob Petri. The two men listened to David pour out his heart. Stunningly, Rob asked a question that echoed the words that had been reverberating in David’s mind: “Why don’t you go back to church? What do you have to lose?”

“It was literally God speaking to me directly,” David said. “They took me to St. Thomas Aquinas Church, laid hands on me and prayed over me. That was my first real encounter with the Holy Spirit.”

When it was over, David felt he’d reached a turning point. That night, he had a vivid dream that he was looking out at a ferocious storm. “I heard God say to me, ‘Step outside.’ I opened up the door and as soon as I stepped through, the storm stopped. Things were still messed up, but that was the end of the storm. I had some cleaning up to do.”

Since that time, David has grown in faith and become active in the pastoral council, youth ministry, prayer groups and other apostolates. “It took me 46 years, but when you center your life on God, there is great joy and peace.”

He said he has compassion for people who are struggling as he once was and wants to tell them, “This can all stop. But you have to want to acknowledge the truth of Jesus Christ and you can find a new way.” As he tells his story, his speech is punctuated by short bursts of laughter. Everything has changed, he says. The Prodigal Son has found his way home. There is joy. And hope — real hope — abounds.

Are you at a place in your life that looks hopeless? Here’s your invitation: Fall at the foot of the cross and know that it was there atop Golgotha that God poured out His unconditional love for you, even while you were in the midst of sin. God chose you to live at this moment in time for His purposes. The hope that was born the day Christ rose from the grave still shines today in the hearts of those who have surrendered all to Him. That hope is yours for the asking. What have you got to lose?