There is Always Hope
Some reflections during this Advent season
+JMJ+ There is always hope.
If you’ve been following for me awhile you probably know that I use this phrase a lot. These are the words spoken to me by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the end of our visit in 2008.
As we continue this season of Advent in what has been a very unusual (for lack of a better word) year of 2020, I want to encourage you to hold onto those words.
There is always hope.
Holding onto hope becomes harder when we are struggling to turn off the noise of the world around us, and this has certainly been a year with a lot of noise. In these times, more than ever before, it is crucial that we turn down the volume of the world and instead tune into what God is trying to tell us. God has been doing a lot of talking over this past year, but many among us have been deaf to His words. More than anything, 2020 has been a wake-up call – a reminder of how far we've gone from Christ and His commandments. Yet, He is speaking up loudly against the hustle and bustle and reminding us of the hope that comes from faith in Him. Remaining hopeful and keeping our gaze fixed on Christ is imperative!
We cannot do this alone. We cannot expect to live in this world (where there will always be suffering) without His grace. We cannot expect to keep going unless we hold onto the hope that only Christ can bring.
Advent is a season of preparation, promise, and of HOPE. Many of us have encountered a lot of difficulties over the past year. Our suffering may be making it difficult to be patient and kind or to remain focused on Jesus. We might be struggling to be quiet or to slow down. At this time of year, we are surrounded by even more noise and chaos as the holidays approach and a spirit of commercialism takes over, a spirit that sometimes leads to despair. Sadly, there is much despair in the world today. We must pray for the grace to resist this despair!
Hope, however faint at times, keeps us from falling into despair and encourages kindness, faithfulness, joy, and peace. How desperately we need these graces!
Do you have a space in which to keep Christmas gifts and treasures? Just as many of us have that quiet space to keep all those gifts and treasures, let us also not forget to create a special space in our hearts for Christ. Allow Him to live in us all year, not just during the holiday season or one or two days out of the year.
Please remember that you don't have to join in with our culture, loudly proclaiming our need for superficial things. We're told that if we just have this item, give this item as a gift, decorate this way, go to this party, act this way...only then will we be truly happy. None of us can compare or even hope to achieve a “Hallmark Christmas” and the whole “holly jolly” mentality can feel like its being forced, causing us to sink further into sorrow and anxiety. You've probably already heard this before, but this isn't what the seasons of Advent and Christmas are about.
Christ desires to be born in YOU and in me. He desires to be born in all of us and, therefore, we have hope. As a result, Advent is also a season of healing because Christ desires to heal all of us. His coming is extremely personal. He comes for each and every one of us. He comes out of a love that we cannot even begin to fathom, and He comes to bring us hope and healing. We can all use both this year!
Let us all strive to spend more time in prayer, to devote ourselves to Our Lord, to look forward to the coming of Christ's light into this world. The peace He brings goes against the chaos, division, and despair. Let us remain faithful and trust in the certainty of God's promises of hope and salvation.
May we all place our trust in God's promises. May we rely on His grace. None of us can live this life alone. We NEED Him. We NEED His light! Advent brings the promise of that new life that will soon be born in our hearts once again.
Open your heart and create a special, quiet place for Him. Go against the chaos of the world. Ask for the grace to live in the world but not be a part of it. Allow Him to work in you and through you. Let Him heal you. Rest in the joy that only He can bring. Allow His peace to live in your heart.
As we continue on in this Advent season, I encourage you to hold onto HOPE because, with God, there is always hope!