Life is a recurrent foreground of expectations. It is often impossible to live without some forms of expectations. Pregnant women are called expectant mothers because they are awaiting the birth of their babies. The expectancy theory by Victor Vroom states that we are motivated to act in certain ways because of the of rewards we expect. There is always one form of expectation or the other in our lives, good or not so good, fair or not so fair. In whichever way it goes, hope sustains expectations.
Today, the Church enters her annual season of expectation, namely, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ not just at Christmas but into our lives as we also prepare for his second coming; the Parousia. The advent period opens with the message of future hope beyond the many challenges and unfortunate moments of the past and the present.
In the First Reading today (Jer. 33:14-16), the prophet Jeremiah declares that the days are coming when God will fulfill the promise he made to the house of Israel and Judah about raising for David, a just shoot. In the Gospel Reading (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36), our Lord states that our redemption would come through after the tribulations of those days when frightening things would happen following remarkable changes in the universe.
Hope Sustains and Fulfils Our Expectations
The challenge that goes with expectation is the ability to wait for the fulfillment of what one expects. The virtue of hope comes up at this point. Hope, with faith, and love constitutes the theological virtues (1 Cor. 13:13) which are infused by God as gifts that enable us to act as children of God who would merit eternal life.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, hope helps us to place our trust in Christ’s promises and not to rely on our strength. Hope is not mere positive thinking, it is instead a relationship which involves faithful trust and surrender to God.
We live in an intensely broken world. There are traces and evidence of brokenness around us for instance in marriages, finances, businesses, jobs, relationships, and other areas of life. In all these, we need hope to keep going; without hope, we may not cope.
Our God is a promise keeper. The Book of Joshua (21:45), tells us that all the promises of God to Israel were fulfilled; none failed. In the oracle of the Prophet Isaiah (55:11), God maintains that the word that goes out of His mouth would not return empty but shall accomplish its purpose. According to our Lord Jesus Christ, heaven and earth may pass away, but his words will not pass. (Matt. 24:35).
The advent attitude is that of hopeful waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. The liturgy of this Sunday invites us to look beyond the discomforts and problems could be confronting us now and focus on the glorious future ahead.
Sometimes, we tend to forget that there are lots of opportunities behind most of the obstacles that confront us. Some of us search for shortcuts that end up cutting short our blessings. St. Paul tells us not to be weary in doing good, for at the PROPER TIME we will reap the harvest if we do not give up (Gal. 6:9). We should not be weary at all because he who has promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23).
In the Second Reading today (1 Thess. 3:12-4:2), St. Paul gives us an idea of what we could be doing as we await the fulfillment of God’s promises. In his words, we should increase and abound in love for one another and be blameless in holiness before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.
As we march into the advent period, may we always remind ourselves that we are in a holy season that is preparatory to the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts. Have a beautiful celebration and a glorious season of Advent.