I want to say a few words about ‘hope’, REAL hope. Because it seems to me that there’s not a great deal of hope around in the modern world.
I’m part of a generation that doesn’t really believe in hope. We’re not BAD people, but we just don’t think there’s much to hope for. We heard of the naive idealism of the generation before us, of flower-power and hippies, a generation full of an idealism that thought it would make a new world, but we saw that the new world didn’t happen. And so my generation is typified by a kind of practical cynicism: thinking that there is no grand ideal, there’s nothing to live for but myself, and my immediate friends. Not setting out to be evil, but not living with a vision of hope.
And our modern world has little hope because it has little faith.
To journey in hope means to set out in the expectation of something better. That holds for a kind of everyday worldly hope, but also for a grander supernatural hope –to be setting out expecting something better.
Faith, divine faith, is when the intellect grasps the awesome end-goal of human existence that Christ revealed.
Hope, takes that vision of the end goal that Faith has perceived, and then sets out for it.
When I wake up in the morning, if my day is heading towards a joyful goal that evening, then I live in hope. My activity works towards that goal. I do my activity well because I want the goal that the activity is heading towards.
This can hold for some ordinary good thing, like meeting friends and family. The joyful goal means that I live in hope: hope pervades every part of the activity that leads to that meeting.
I say all this today because this is what Advent should be about: rekindling our hope.
Because there is a goal in my life, not just a goal for this evening, but a goal for my whole life, and a goal for the whole of human existence, a goal that the whole of the cosmos is yearning towards.
Advent prepares us for Christmas. But it starts by reminding us not of Christ’s first coming in Bethlehem, but of His Second Coming.
The cosmos was created for a goal, and that goal was Christ: that physical matter would evolve, be infused with a spiritual soul in Adam, and that Christ would come as a descendent of Adam to enter His creation, uniting it to Himself.
But even that goal, Jesus told us, was but a step towards the final goal when He would come in glory.
We live NOW in the time of opportunity. We live in the time when Christ has been made manifest. We live in the time when it is possible to know Christ, to love Christ, to live as he asked us, and to be supported in all this by the sacraments He established for us in the Church –so that we are fed with His very Body, fed with the Bread of Heaven as we live here yearning for Heaven.
And this means that we should be living in HOPE.
When I wake in the morning, the hope-filled joy that should motivate me through each day is the possibility of living this day with Christ and for Christ. That He who came before and will come again can come TODAY in my life IF I make HIM the goal of my life and of my day living and of my working.
But all of this can only happen if we are awake to what is going on, awake to where history is heading, awake to the coming Return of Christ:
“And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!”(Mk 13:37)