Amidst a time of great turmoil in our world’s history, the Catholic Church presents the world with Advent and the message of great hope.
This weekend the Holy Roman Catholic Church and many other Christian churches, begin the holy season of Advent. This also marked the beginning of the Church’s new liturgical year. There are several seasons in the Church’s liturgical year, all of which are important for our spiritual growth as they all point some aspect of our spirituality that we need to keep in focus and are important for our salvation.
Advent is one such time or season that the Catholic Church presents to us to help in our journey to salvation. It is a time of great preparation and a time of great waiting. It points to the second coming of Christ and therefore both of these characteristics namely preparation and waiting are very important. Much of the readings of the Advent season speaks about ‘preparing a way for the Lord’ and about being ready for the banquet that God has invited us all to. Advent is also known as the season of great hope. So in spite of all the despair that surrounds us nationally here in Trinidad and Tobago, as well as internationally, the Holy Roman Catholic Church challenges us to be a people of hope. The Holy Roman Catholic Church and by extension God challenges us to be a hope-filled people; in spite of it all. God know that this year was an awful one, but no matter how grim the situation may seem to be, no matter how desperate our country or the world may appear to be, we are called to be people of hope; we are called to still trust; to still believe.
Let us take a look at the word hope and what it means. Hope is defined as a feeling that what is needed can be had or that events will turn out for the best. The Catholic Encyclopaedia describe hope as is described as ‘the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it’. You will note that in neither of these definitions/description of hope, is there any mention of a time frame. Therefore no time limits can be attached to hope. We are called to be hope-filled people – not for a time, but for always – full stop!
So what does the Word of God say about hope? Well in genesis chapter 8:1 says, ‘But God had Noah in mind, and all the wild animals and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. God sent a wind across the earth and the waters began to subside’. So in the first book of the Bible, God turned a situation of great despair into one of hope when He remembered Noah.
This is one of my favorite psalms and it is one of great hope. Psalm 3 says, ‘Yahweh, how countless are my enemies, how countless those who rise up against me, how countless those who say of me, ‘No salvation for him from his God! But you, Yahweh, the shield at my side, my glory, you hold my head high.’.
The prophet Jeremiah, chapter 29 declares, ‘Yes I know the plans I have in mind for you Yahweh declares; plans for peace not for disaster; to give you a future and hope.
Psalm 43:5 says, ‘Why so downcast, why all these sighs? Hope in God! I will praise him still my Saviour, my God.
Psalm 147:11 says, ‘The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.’
There are numerous other bible passages that speak of hope. In looking at them, one cannot help but notice a pattern. Hope does not originate from us. It is a gift from God. To hope, to trust and believe, to continue to wear a smile in your heart even though it has been broken so many times is a gift from God. Neither is our hope blind hope. It is not trivial. It is driven and rooted in the knowledge of the Love of God and the promise of Eternal Life!
Man was created by God for God and so there is that constant hunger in man for the things of God. This hunger is driven by the hope that the is more to our being than this life. Unfortunately, man seeks to satisfy this hunger in all but the right place. He places his hope in all the wrong places, in people; in things, and the hunger goes unsatisfied, unfulfilled.
Earlier in this post, I spoke of Advent being a time of great waiting and preparation. Anyone who waits does so with expectation, with hope of something or someone. As we journey through this season of Advent, may the eyes of our hearts be opened to the truth of that which we hunger for – that which our very souls long and hope for – the boundless Love of God that has no beginning nor does it have an end.