The new liturgical church year begins this Sunday with ADVENT. If you were an early subscriber to our newsletter, you will recall that when you opened one of these first newsletters the word “HOPE” jumped off the page. Now here we are, and another season of Advent has come, it feels, out of nowhere. Just like Sacred Scripture, the living Word of God, this message of HOPE is alive, and one that I believe we need to hear as we navigate through these times together. Christ is our source of HOPE and continues to be our navigator.
To complete my studies in the seminary, my final comprehensive theological reflection paper was titled “Assistance During Difficult Times: Ministry of Providing Authentic Christian Hope.” It was in fact based on my summer here at St. Julia in 2015 when I was deacon. So, here is some bedtime reading on Hope.
Hope is the theme of the entire Bible. Both the Old and New Testaments are interwoven with anticipation of some future good, be it the end of a flood, deliverance from slavery, or the coming of the Messiah. This hope that we as Christians speak of refers to Christ, “our hope,” for it is our hope in God’s promise and the person of Jesus Christ that is the ground of hope, and is that which gives us hope. It is our very foundation. We read in Psalm 103:11 “as the heavens tower over the earth, so God’s love towers over the faithful.” This hope, given from God himself, stirs within the human that is positively grace; this hope is born of a gift, and as the theologian Anthony Kelly notes, “that gift is precisely the energies of God-given love.” This is the foundation of hope that is found in the entire Bible.
Jesus Christ is the foundation, the source, and the thrust of our faith, and it is in Jesus alone that we find our foundation for hope. What exactly is hope, Christian hope that is? As defined by Daniel Harrington, at its most basic level, hope is a desire accompanied by the possibility of (or belief in) its realization; thus hope has an object or focus, looks toward the future, and has some ground or basis in reality. Hope is faith and trust in the possibility of the not-yet which makes it worthwhile to live and be in the present; hope is what you make it, or better what you make of life. And the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines hope as “the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” These are just a few of the rich definitions of Christian hope.
As we begin our Advent journey as a community of believers here at St. Julia, it is my prayer that this season be a time spiritual renewal and one filled with many blessings.
O come, O come, Emmanuel.
May God bless and keep safe each of you and those that you love,
From Our Pastor