My dear brothers and sisters,
Hope is an integral part of being human. Hope has always manifested itself as a fundamental need of humanity, but our hopes are often fleeting. Given the world in which we live, we need more than hope in what is temporal. We need a lasting hope and a sure foundation, not something that will wither away. We cannot live without hope, and this season of Advent that we are entering can help us cultivate true hope because it sets forth a way for us always to live in hope.
To do this we must understand once and for all that there is nothing that we can do and nothing that comes from our personal strengths or strategies that can redeem us or can give us the kind of hope on which we can base our entire existence. This hope and this redemption can only come from a love that comes from outside us because, like when we experience great love in this life, that particular moment of experiencing God’s love can become for us a moment of hope and redemption.
We must also understand that if this love comes from the world, it cannot of itself either solve the problems of life or give us the hope that we need. Human love can be withdrawn by the person who has loved us, and the experience of that love can be destroyed by death. You and I, like every single person born into this world, are born with the need for unconditional love. We need to be able to say with the same certainty as the Apostle Saint Paul that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present, nor future, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any creature can separate us from the love of God, manifested in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Rom 8:38-39). God, who is absolute and pure love, is the only source for the absolute, certain hope that we need.
Therefore, it is essential for us to know and be rooted in Jesus Christ, the revelation of God’s own love for us! Whoever does not know God, even though he or she might have many hopes, is ultimately hopeless. This is why Advent is a joyful call to conversion, to wait for God, and to expect from Him the culmination of all things. As Jesus tells us: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and your sent one, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). It is through a relationship with Him who is Life itself that we live and are invaded by hope. Hope comes with God’s great embrace of us. Let us allow God, who comes to this world and fills us with hope, to
In Advent, Christians invite the world to walk alongside us in this journey of faithful hope. This is why it is important that see ourselves as missionaries working for the mission of Christ by preparing a path that makes the mystery of Christ come alive in history. How powerful are the words: “Christ is the same yesterday, today and always” (Heb 13: 8)! Conversely, the world is continually changing and in need of constant evangelization: needing not only to be renewed from within but also needing the knowledge that the only true renewal is through Christ. Only “in Christ” do we find the full realization and the radiant future of each individual and of the
The word “Advent” can be translated as “presence,” “arrival,” or “coming.” The Latin adventus was used to translate the Greek parousia, which was a technical term used to indicate the arrival of an official or the visit of a king or an emperor to a province. It could also signify the arrival of a divine being who came out of its dwelling place to manifest itself with force. Christians have adopted the term “Advent” to express our relationship with Jesus Christ: Jesus is the King who has come and will come again. In the Old Testament, people lived in hope of his first Advent.
Now Jesus has entered this poor “province” called Earth to visit us, and He invites us to participate in the celebration of His first Advent and to live in hope of His second Advent. By this word “Advent” we mean to say: Jesus Christ has come, is coming, and will come again. He has not withdrawn from the world forever. He has not left us alone but poured out his Spirit as we wait in hope.
I invite you all to fully discover how Advent is, at its heart, the expectation of a visit from God. He wants to enter our lives and to speak to us. He wants to enter into this time and into the life of every person in the world. During the upcoming Sundays, I invite you to let the Word of God fill you, inside and out, and I recommend two things. First, try to capture the presence of God. Be silent and consider that the events of each day are signs that God gives us and signals of His attention to each one of us. Second, try to understand the meaning of the present as more than just time. Try to understand it as kairos: an opportune time for our salvation and a special moment for grace, joy, and the expectation of eternity.
During the Sundays of Advent, you will hear the following messages:
- The Lord wants your full attention: “Be alert, lest their hearts be burdened with dissipation, drunkenness, and with the cares of life, and that day come suddenly upon you as a snare” (Luke 21:25- 36). We are invited among other things to be vigilant because the Lord is surprising. He comes when we least expect Him.
- The Lord is the true King; let us give him our lives: “The voice of him who cries out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, straighten His paths’” (Luke 3:1-6). A prophet cries out in the wilderness announcing the coming of the true King, Jesus, who will change everyone’s heart. Shall we let our hearts be changed and straighten our paths? Will we accept him as King of our very beings and of the personal and collective history of our lives?
- Let us live our faith in unconditional allegiance to a God who loves us profoundly: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:39-45). As soon as Mary heard the angel’s announcement and learned that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant, she ran out to visit her, trusting in a God who is faithful to His promises. Mary believed. Elizabeth believed. Will we allow ourselves to be surrounded by the mystery of the incarnation? Will we follow in faith, in an unconditional adherence to God, as Mary and Elizabeth did?
When we are rooted in the God made flesh, there is no problem or setback that can overcome us. When we allow ourselves to be surrounded by the mystery of the incarnation, we can do nothing else but proclaim the wonders God has done. God himself drives us to be missional. When we see the compassion that the God made flesh has had with us to visit and redeem us despite our sinful condition, we cannot do anything less than be compassionate as well.
May the God made flesh help us to be rooted in Him, to be His missionaries, and to share His compassion so that we and the whole world will proclaim the great things that the Lord has done for us as we wait for Him to come again.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus,