Keep the Flame of Hope Burning Brightly

The Prophet Isaiah uses the image of a lamb lying down with the wolf, each one of them having nothing to fear from the other, to describe the messianic age. It is a picture of a time of universal peace where the strong will no longer prey on the weak, or the cunning on the innocent.

Advent, with its wonderful promises of a new world, takes us on a trip to a place called hope. If things and people were perfect, hope would not be needed. Hope is necessary because we live in an imperfect world. We place our hope in God and His promises.

Hope is a vital part of life as we spend a great deal of our time longing, waiting, hoping for one thing or another. Hope is necessary for living life fully.

Now, hope does not mean we sit back and wait for things to happen. It is hope that invites us to roll up our sleeves and get involved in the messiness of life. We believe our efforts are worthwhile, and that they do make a difference. Our strength, our commitment, depends to a great extent on the degree and quality of our hope.

Cynicism is the enemy of hope. Many refuse to accept hope into their hearts. They have an attitude that things will never change, it is useless. Cynicism comes easy as it requires nothing from us; no trust, no effort, no love.

Hope is the trust that God will fulfill his promises in his way and in his time. The person of hope lives in the present moment, with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in God’s hands.

The world needs people who are filled with hope. To be a person of hope is to take the words of St. Paul from today’s Second Reading to heart, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.” It is easy to be critical, to be quick in making judgments, to be intolerant of the faults of others. If we take Paul’s words seriously we would make the world, or at least our corner of it, a more hopeful place.

As Christians we have a duty to keep the flame of hope burning brightly. When all is said and done, this world will never fulfill our deepest hopes. Only God can do that. Meanwhile, we live in a place called hope and it is this hope that enables us to keep one foot in the world as it is, and the other in the world as it should, and one day will be.

— Fr. Dennis, December 8, 2019