On Sunday 28th November we will celebrate the beginning of another liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting, a time of hope, in which we prepare ourselves to welcome once again the birth of Jesus in the mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus the Light of the World, Jesus the light in our darkness. As we light the four candles in each week of Advent, the light increases with each new light and finally the Light in our darkness is born anew.
The prophet Isaiah, the great prophet of Advent, the great messenger of hope, addresses the people with his message of comfort. A voice cries out “In the wilderness prepare the Way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up and every mountain and hill made low…….. the glory of the Lord shall be revealed……..for the mouth of the Lord has spoken “ (Is: 40:1-2,3-5)
Pope Francis in his “Catechesis on Hope” reminds us that comfort begins with the opportunity to walk on God’s path, a new path, made straight, a path prepared for us in the desert to make is possible to cross it.” It was a message that gave the exiles hope at a time when they had lost their homeland, freedom, dignity and even trust in God. Likewise in the depths of a dark winter, in a confused and often violent world, we find our hope in the light which is Jesus who is our peace.
“When we speak of hope, often it refers to what is not in our power to realise, which is invisible. In fact, what we hope for goes beyond our strength and our perception. The birth of Christ, inaugurating redemption, speaks to us of a different hope, because it is founded on God. He comes into the world and gives us the strength to walk with Him. For us, to hope means the certainty of being on a journey with Christ towards the Father who awaits us.” (Pope Francis: Catechesis on Hope)
The season of Advent and then Christmas reawakens hope in God’s people – hope is a basic human need, hope for the future, belief in life, hope in what has been promised to us. During Advent we look towards Bethlehem and this offers us a sure ongoing goal. As St Paul says, “In this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24). The hope of God and our hope meet in Jesus. Christian hope never disappoints us because it is hope founded on Christ, the Spirit, love poured into our hearts, Emmanuel, God with us always. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us too “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer:29:11)
I wish each of you a prayerful Advent journey and end with some words from the letter of St Paul to the Romans “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom:15:13)
May the Lord give you peace!
With my love and prayers
Sister Maureen, FMSJ