Invincible Hope

Dear Folks,Now we begin Advent, the great season of hope, and the world could very much use hope right now. Starting with hope is key. If you don’t have hope that your struggle is worth it, why would you struggle? Would you not just give up? If you don’t have hope that things will make sense, why would you learn? Why would you ponder? Would you not just give up and let the video screen tell you what to think? Without hope, what will move us forward?There are some important things about Christian hope. First, it is based on truth. Many poor people buy lottery tickets because that is the only hope they can find of a better life. That is not a very realistic hope for almost everybody who plays. Many people put their hope on circumstances in the world that we cannot predict or control. “If only my stock would take off;” “If only the next boss does what needs to be done;” “If only I could draw an inside straight this once.” When things don’t happen as they hope, they sometimes give up hope.Christian hope is based on God’s love at work, and that is for everyone. Second, it does not make cheap promises. It does not promise that all our troubles will vanish any time soon. In fact, the New Testament is brimming with warnings that disciples face great difficulties. We are also taught that the cross is the way to glory, so our hope does not depend on world events. Because of that, by God’s grace, nothing that the world can do to us can destroy our hope.During Advent we seek to hone and sharpen our sense of hope through prayer, some reflection, some silence and stillness when we can find it, and remembering the long wait for the coming ofthe Messiah. We are also called to project hope to the world. We can do that with our attitudes:We all know people who can always find something to complain about but are not willing to help change things. Other people are always looking for what is good that is happening, and when bad things happen, they are quick to look for opportunities to make things better, however incrementally. The latter are better at projecting hope. We all fall short, but how can we use this time to get a bit better?It also marks the end of the liturgical year 2021 and begins the year of grace 2022. Last year most of our Sunday Gospels were from the Gospel of Mark, but now we switch to Luke. The Gospel of Luke has several things special about it, and I’ll be talking more about them later. The Gospel of Luke is the only one with the Annunciation, the visitation, the birth in the manger because of no room at the inn, and the visiting shepherds at Christmas. Luke also emphasizesmercy for the repentant sinner, care for the lowly and the needy, and the work of the Holy Spirit. To get the full Lucan experience, one needs to read the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. More later.I hope you have a fruitful Advent.Blessings,Fr. Jim

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