Ready for hope?
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime.
Thank you for joining as we begin this new liturgical year, a time of expectation as we await the Lordâ€™s return.
The sort of standardized theme for the First Sunday of Advent is that of hope. Of course, that causes us to pause and perhaps think about what hope means, where we might find it, and when we might add hopeâ€™s arrival to our calendars.
Put simply, hope is having confidence in Godâ€™s faithfulness, that He will complete what He has begun. It is also the surety that all God’s promises will be fulfilled â€“ 100% delivered.
Well, that defines hope, and where we might find it â€“ in Christ Jesus of course â€“ but when will its fulfillment arrive, where should I pencil it in? That is the tough part, isnâ€™t it?
St. Paul is reminding us that time is growing short,Â our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. We can certainly agree, based on our life experience, that time does grow shorter by the day. Life is not stagnant nor is the time till Jesusâ€™ return getting longer. But where to pencil it in?
Paul wasnâ€™t making this all up. He is merely repeating the words of Jesus, the gospel of Jesus wherein Jesus says over and over: the Kingdom is at hand. We hear Jesus speak on this very subject in todayâ€™s gospel: â€œTherefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. So, you must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” But where to pencil it in?
Brothers and sisters, Isaiahâ€™s message is so very hopeful, the source of our theme. We love to hear those words about swords and spears being turned into tools of life. We enjoy getting to those few lines about peace and no more war. We like it so much that we miss our obligation, what it takes to get there: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.”
So, we are called, at the start of the liturgical year, to refocus, re-commit, renew, and set to work in living out our faith. We must live up to our baptismal pledge. We must live as citizens of the Kingdom. The gospel path must be our daily walk. We must not sit on our hands, for our connection to hope is in how we live right now.
Our duty right now is the making of hard choices between the worldâ€™s way, societyâ€™s way, our own way, and Godâ€™s way. Only one of those ways leads to life, the rest to death.
Godâ€™s promise of help is ours so we may live out the gospel. Let us do it, and pencil in Christâ€™s return everyday living ready for Him.