From the Deacon’s Desk: Prayer and Inspirational Thoughts
December 4 – Second Sunday of Advent
“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together.” What a wonderful image from our first reading today. An image of a time when all is right with the world. Hard to imagine isn’t it? Especially in a world and at a time when acrimony and hatred seem to be so rampant. It is hard to imagine this world of peace and harmony. And yet, this image corresponds to the deepest longings of the human heart, and points to God’s ultimate goal for each of us. Such a vision can nurture our hearts and our souls. It offers us hope in this time of when tragedy often seems to be just around the corner.
This is the wonder – the heart of the Advent season. God calls out to us offering us the hope of a new world and better times. We look forward to that time with great anticipation. He delivers that hope in a tiny package at an obscure place – the birth of Jesus in a manger. The hope is brought to fulfillment at a time of darkness and agony for the human soul on a hillside with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The hope will be fully realized with his coming again. For us – this is what it is about – he has come and he will come again. This is the hope Paul calls us to in his letter to the Romans. It is a hope grounded in the trust that God will fulfill his promises in his way and his time. Rich Mullins wrote a song called My Deliverer, in which he talks about the children looking over the banks of the Nile waiting for the coming of their deliverer. The words at one point say; “He will never break his promise. He has written it upon the sky. I will never doubt his promise, though I doubt my heart, I doubt my eyes!” These words capture the essence of our hope that resides in the promise of Jesus returning in glory.
It is in Jesus, who is the coming of God and the rebirth of our covenant with him, that we find our hope and salvation. In so many ways and places, God has found ways to come to us and fill us with hope. He continually reaches out to fill our needs, to care for us, to come into our lives and to be present with us even in times of darkness.
The examples are boundless. He came to Moses and the Jewish people through the events of Passover, a burning bush and the Ten Commandments. He came to Mary through the words of an angel – although he was with her long before then. He comes to us through Mary. St. Pope John Paul II said of Mary that “she represents the saving grace of Easter.” She presents to us our redemption, as well as our model of discipleship and our hope for the future. In the person of Christ, God comes to us in the most significant way to date. His coming gives us our hope for today and tomorrow. His life serves as our model and guide. His death and resurrection open the doors to eternity. The gift Jesus gave us gives us our hope for tomorrow. Pope Benedict said in his encyclical Saved In Hope that “we are given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal.” He goes on to say; “the one who has hope lives differently; the one who has hope has been granted the gift of a new life.” Even in these difficult times, we can look forward to the future knowing tomorrow will be better.
As Vincentians, we are the carriers of that hope to those we encounter and minister to. We are called to open our hearts in love, in mercy and in compassion that the hope of Jesus Christ becomes present and evident to others. As Christ brings his hope to each of us, he calls us to bring it to others. How well do I make his hope visible to those I encounter?
Lord Jesus, lead me to be a peacemaker – making your hope ever present in the world. Let your hope be evident in the way I live and treat others. Fill me with the hope of Moses, Mary, the saints and Jesus himself. In humility, grant that I may always serve you and your will. Allow this Advent season to be transformational for me as a Vincentian, and for those whom you bring before me as children of God. We pray all of this in your name. Amen