Advent invites us to be a people of radical hope – a hope that calls us to deep faith, love, courage and risk. Hope is not optimism. Optimism is the expectation of success and the feeling that all will be well despite dim realities. Hope is the gift rooted in God that gives our human heart the capacity to choose the good, the right and the holy regardless of how it turns out. Hope is when we continue to extend generosity, forgiveness and compassion to the ones we love and the ones we find hard to love even when our actions may not result in the good we intend, the change we desire, or the thank you we expect.
God’s plan that we are all created equal and are deserving of fullness of life, dignity, justice and peace didn’t coincide with many of the Israelites and Romans in Jesus’ time, and God’s plan doesn’t coincide with many today. We are called to live and witness God’s vision revealed by Jesus. Jesus taught us how to relate to rich and poor, Gentile and Jew, high priests and lepers, citizens and foreigners, and women and men. Hope helps us to reach out to others, to see all as one sacred community in God, and to give us the courage to keep working for the good of all people and all God’s creation.
Hope changes our way of seeing and rearranges how we act. It fills us with God’s own purposes so we put God’s style and ways into action. Hope gives witness to God’s promise that love is stronger than fear, peace more enduring than hate, and God’s light in us will not be extinguished. As friends of God, we belong to the heart of God and are a part of this heart forever.
Reflections on Hope
Hope starts with God. God is the one who promised to always love us, never leave us, be our strength when we are weak, provide direction when we are lost and wisdom when we ask for it. (St. Teresa of Calcutta)
Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are. (St. Augustine of Hippo)
Hope is not the conviction that what we do will be successful but the certainty that something is right regardless of how it turns out. … We work for change because it is right and good, not because it stands a chance to succeed. Even a purely moral act that has no chance of immediate and visible effect can gradually, over time, gain in significance. (Vaclav Havel)
God says: “Faith and Love are obvious virtues, easy to understand and most discussed. But Hope surprises me - and delights me most.” (Charles Peguy, in his poetic essay “The Portal of the Mystery of Hope”)
Let us surprise and delight God with Advent Hope.