We are People of Hope
The First Reading for the Fourth Sunday in Advent this year comes from the Book of the prophet Micah [cf. Micah 5:1-4a]. In the time of Micah, things looked quite hopeless. It was around the year 720 BC, in the period known as the Divided Kingdom. Many people had lost confidence in their government, in traditional values - even in religion itself. Unrest and lawlessness plagued many communities and concerns were mounting of conflict with foreign powers. So, God prompted His prophet, Micah, to speak to His people of hope – hope that the love and mercy of God will bring a better future.
Hope is so essential in our lives.
You know, hope is so essential in our lives. When we can hope in a better tomorrow, we can bear today’s hardships. Envisioning a better future motivates us to persevere in tough times. Isaiah, who was a contemporary of Micah, wrote: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” [Isiah 40:31]. Yes, true hope is founded only in the Lord.
Friends, our times are remarkably similar to those of Micah’s day. We too see disillusionment with our government and institutions; we too see widespread falling away from traditional values, even in religion itself. We too see unrest and lawlessness in many of our cites. We too see growing concern over conflict with foreign powers. Discouragement, even despair, fills too many of those around us.
In spite of its having been much commercialized,
Christmas is still a time of hope.
Thank God for Christmas. In spite of its having been much commercialized, Christmas is still a time of hope. Every year, on Christmas morning, we hear the stirring words: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” [Isiah 9:1]. Hope is when we see light in spite of all the darkness around us.
In the lifetime of some of us, there have been more martyrs for their faith than in all of previous history.1 And, in recent years, there have been six times as many people walk away from the Church than have joined. 2 So, there’s plenty to be troubled about. Yet, the waters of Baptism still flow; the vows of Matrimony are still shared; the contrite whisper of the penitent is still heard; the Words of Consecration are still proclaimed. Why? Because they are the seeds of hope sown for the people of God.
We are the people of God. We see light where others see only darkness; we reach out for the hand of Christ when others only grasp at straws; we gather at church as family when others only walk away. So, take heart, God will not fail us. As troubling as things may seem now, God promises for us a better future. At some point, this pandemic will be just a memory; at some point, civility will return; at some point, traditional values will again be seen as worth holding on to.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
Have we not heard the Lord say, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength?” Why sure we did, for the Word of God speaks to us through the words of inspired authors, like Micah. Micah spoke over 2700 years ago, but the message was meant for every age where there is disillusionment, abandonment of traditional values - even religion itself. So, hope in the Lord; for there is no trial too hard for God’s grace to bear; no division too wide for His compassion to bridge, no illness too threatening for His hand to heal; no heart too broken for His love to mend.
Yes, Christmas reminds us of God’s love; and it reminds us to hold on to hope, to cherish what we have, to embrace those around us; and to see the light that shines in the darkness. Let our celebration of this Christmas enliven our hope for better tomorrows. For we are people of hope,
May we all, this year, have a Christmas that’s filled with hope.
“Till next time,
Dcn Bob Evans
December 20, 2021
1. cf. Phillip Kosloski, “Are There more Martyrs now than in the Early Church?” in Aleteia, June 30, 2017.
2. cf. Pew Research Center Survey, October 2019.
Micah 5:1-4a; Isiah 40:31; Isiah 9:1