HOPE is the virtue we are reflecting on this month at St. Peter. As Christians, our HOPE is in the name of the Lord who created heaven and earth, and his name is Jesus. We find HOPE in no other name. Without Jesus we have no HOPE, because we cannot save ourselves from our brokenness. Nothing we buy, nothing we possess, nothing we do on our own can heal our hearts and save our souls. Yet sometimes we do not live according to this reality.
We sometimes find ourselves denying there is anything to be saved from. Even so, sin and its consequences are real, and Jesus died a terrible death to save us from it. Sometimes we forget about what are called the “Last Things”: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell. It was just a few weeks ago on the Feast of Christ the King that we considered these very things. Why? Because Christ has come once before, and he is coming back. He has promised us that. So Advent is not just a preparation for the day we re-live his first coming. Advent is also preparation for Christ’s second coming.
Some may wonder why we would even talk about such things as we lead up to Christmas. This does not sound pleasant at all. There are no free rides to heaven, however, and what we do on this earth – the choices we make – have consequences. Our choices affect our own lives and the lives of others. This is sobering. Every day I am reminded of my weaknesses and shortcomings, and that is a good thing to be reminded of. It is a daily memo from God that says, “You need ME. You cannot do this on your own.” In other words, I am reminded to place my HOPE in him rather than myself. No one else can save me. And I need saving every day. I am a work in progress. Aren’t we all?
So how does this get us to Christmas? When Christ was born, HOPE was born. The HOPE of all mankind. THIS HOPE, not the gifts under the tree, is the JOY of Christmas. Our only HOPE for heaven was born on Christmas. Our HOPE during the darkest times of life was born on Christmas. Our HOPE when we feel alone was born on Christmas. Our HOPE when the world around us is going crazy was born on Christmas. Will we experience the JOY of this HOPE when Christmas Day arrives? If we were not to receive one single gift this Christmas, could we still say that this is the most JOYFUL and HOPE-filled Christmas we have ever experienced?
Lord Jesus, prepare our hearts for your birth! Be our HOPE! Be born into our hearts this Christmas! Amen!
Peace and blessings to you and your families throughout these weeks of Advent and up-coming weeks of Christmas!
Coordinator of Religious Education