Advent is a time of hope . . . hope in the future, hope in the promises God has made to us.
Advent reminds us that hope is not for easy times; hope comes when our “hands are feeble” and our “knees weak” over what is coming upon our world.
The prophet Isaiah describes these times of hope-less-ness: times of famine, oppression, illness, and people turning away from God. In times like these, hope and only hope can help us prevail and continue to believe in the God of promise.
Hope in these times is not insane optimism in the face of evil or the dire circumstances that we face in our world. Rather, hope is the belief and reminder that because of God’s gifts and grace we can survive even the most difficult challenges of our lives.
As Joan Chittester says:
“Hope is the recall of good in the past, on which we base our expectation of good in the future, however bad the present. It digs in the rubble of the heart for memory of God’s promise to bring good out of evil and joy out of sadness, and on the basis of those memories in the past, takes new hope for the future. Even in the face of death. Even in the fear of loss.” (Sparks of Advent Life)
One of the most beautiful reflections of this hope-filled promise is found in our First Reading for this Second Sunday of Advent:
“On that day a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom . . . He shall judge the poor with justice and decide aright for the lands afflicted . . .
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them . . .
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11: 1-10).
As we continue through this season of Advent, let us each take time to ponder these questions:
Who is a messenger of hope for you? How can you be a messenger of hope for others?