One might tend to wonder why, on the beginning of the liturgical year, do we hear the dismal reading of the gospel describing the end of the world “....when people will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world?” The whole situation may seem hopeless to many. But human beings cannot live without hope. Unlike all of the other created beings, we are blessed with the ability to think about the future. Certainly we can't predict the future but we can think about it. And we have a choice to live it in fear or live it in joyful hope. This characteristic is so essential to human life that we simply cannot live without hope. We all need something to look forward to. Without something to look forward to, to be without hope, and feel that we have nothing to live for, is to surrender to the death of despair. But the truth is we always have so many things to be thankful for and all sorts of people, places, and things to live for.
One of the reasons we read the Old Testament during Advent is simply to learn what to hope for. The people of the Old Testament had the courage to hope for big things. Things like lasting peace for not only their own people, but for all the peoples of the earth. Clearly, their hopes and prayers were no different from ours; lasting peace, a tranquil life, sufficient food and shelter, an end to suffering pain and misery.
And so today as we light the first candle on our Advent wreath, we are hoping the same things as the Old Testament people. But we do differ from them in that Jesus has revealed to us that God is not far off, but is already in our midst; Emmanuel, God with us. The importance of our Advent liturgies lies in our decision to be hopeful and joyful servants of the Lord. In four short weeks we will celebrate the coming (Advent) of the Savior we've been hoping for in our midst. And we will say along with the psalmist: “To you O Lord I lift up my soul!”
Have a peaceful and hope filled Advent season.
October 17, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC