St. Augustine once said that life is a journey filled with anxiety. How true that is! Let’s face it, each day has its own evils, its own obstacles to overcome. No one ever said that life was going to be free of anxiety, yet we try to obtain that anxiety-free life. The entire advertizing industry is built on the promise of a worry-free life. If you look this way, or buy this thing, or go on this vacation, then you will achieve the life of luxury. You will be worry-free! Of course, no one really believes this to be true, not the producer of the product, the advertiser, or the person who buys the product.
This whole “be free of worry” message gets especially loud this time of the year, when people are open to spending lots of money on gifts. This is somewhat ironic, because the real remedy to our fears is not any particular way of life, but our acceptance of Christ into our lives. It is really Jesus who gives us hope in the midst of anxieties that are ultimately unavoidable. During the special Advent season, we have an opportunity to receive Christ anew. We have the chance to let Christ enter into our lives at this particular moment, to give us hope.
Advent is the beginning of a great season of hope. I believe that it is wonderful that Catholics celebrate a whole month-long season of hope before the start of each new year. It is a wonderful way to end one year, and begin another one. The readings of Advent from the Prophets speak of the three-fold coming of Jesus: His First Coming, His Second Coming, and His Coming each day. Jesus came in humility before, and he will come in righteousness at the fullness of days. Today, He comes to bring us hope.
Why does He bring us hope? Because Jesus has shown us that there is something more than the world has to offer. Jesus has shown us that the world, with its limited ability to satisfy, and its corruptions, cannot rob us of our deepest dreams. The world, full of good things, finds its completion and fulfillment in the encounter with God. God is love, and He wants to draw us together in faith and love. God wants to renew the Earth, and God wants to fill the Earth with His eternal life. What good news, in the midst of the ups and downs of life! There is an unfailing promise from the Father, and we receive that promise through His Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true promise of Advent: there is a new way of living. It is not temporary, or corrupted. No, it is eternal, and it is pure. We need to enter into repentance and conversion, making our “crooked ways straight” and our “rough places plain” so that the Virgin on the donkey and her Newborn Son can find rest in our homes. “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” These words of the new Liturgical translation are indeed fitting ones for Advent. Entering into Advent will lead to a renewal of our hope. Many have faith and love, but how many of us have active hope? Now is the time to receive that very gift.