The rise and rapid spread of the covid-19 virus was a massive attack on the virtue of hope beyond its siege on health and physical well-being. As a result, we now live in one of the most uncertain periods in our contemporary history. Some of the people we know are no more, and life as we knew it had also been altered whether we realize it or not.
Recently, I had to join a brother priest and his siblings to mourn the demise of his parents, who passed away a few days apart; it has been a very unsettling period for the family. But looking at them during the memorial ceremony appearing strong and bright, I could only think of hope. Yes, they are expectant of a better future; they believe, like in the words of the prophet Nahum, “affliction shall not rise a second time” (Nahum 1:9).
Life without hope is a disaster. St. Paul names hope as one of the three things that endure together with faith and love (1 Cor. 13:13). Our choice of words and disposition at some moments show that life is hope dependant. This way, hope is our support system through the corridors of life.
Furthermore, the virtue of hope functions in sustaining our ride through life’s expectations. In fact, our expectations would be senseless without the leverage of hope. The Advent period is significantly a period of expectation; in fact, it discloses a season of “Great Expectation” of an unusual event in the life of God, namely, divinity becoming human, an event that would change our life forever and for good.
The Days Are Coming
The prophecy of Jeremiah (33:14-16) tells us that the days are coming when God will fulfill the promises He made to the house of Israel and Judah. The promise involves raising a righteous and just shoot from David to bring safety and security for the people.
The prophet addressed a troubled society that is not different from ours in terms of uncertainty, insecurity, and the rampant rise of anarchy and disturbances. Yet, the good news is that beyond the troubling days, glorious days are coming.
Our Lord Jesus Christ presented a more disturbing picture of the days that would precede the coming days of the Son of man in the Gospel of Luke (21:25-28,34-36) when the powers of heaven would be shaken, leading many to fear and dissipation.
Steps to Expectant Hope Activation
Beyond the troubles that confront us now, we focus on the hope that sustains the expectation of great days that are coming. However, hope is an active virtue, so it challenges us to do some things within the timeframe of our expectation, and they include the following:
Prayer and Vigilance: Our Lord Jesus Christ did not just disclose the disruptive nature of the difficult days; he also provided the survival strategy of prayer and vigilance, which would potentially sustain people’s hope in the face of those disastrous times.
We often hear that prayer is the key; that is not wrong, but we may not have heard that prayer is life, in fact, the foundation of Christian life because it provides the platform for the connection we have with God. We are created in God’s image, which means we have access to the divine through prayer.
The life of Jesus Christ on earth was a prayer narrative. He started with prayer and concluded with prayer on the cross. He not only instructed his disciples to pray always (Luke 18:1), they saw him pray (Luke 9:18), and he also taught them how to pray effectively (Luke 11:1).
While prayer is essential, vigilance makes it more effective. Vigilance translates as watchfulness, and it is all about being sensitive in the spirit and especially being careful about the distraction of the evil one.
Jesus told the disciples, “watch and pray that you do not fall into temptation” (Matt. 26:41 ). Likewise, St. Paul would advise us not to be ignorant of the devices of the evil one so that he does not take advantage of us ( 2 Cor. 2:11). St. Peter makes it clearer when he says: “be sober but vigilant for your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Love and Holiness
Paul, writing to the Church in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3: 12-4:2), prays that they increase and abound in love for one another; why? So, that their hearts would be strengthened to be blameless in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
From the instruction of St. Paul, we could reaffirm our understanding of the centrality of love. Here we understand that love is the condition without which nothing can happen because God is love (1 John 4:8,17). St. Paul would add that whoever loves fulfills the law (Romans 13:8).
Moving Forward: Sustaining the attitude of Expectant Hope
Hope is not just a virtue; it is also a positive attitude that has the innate capacity to transform our expectations into real celebrations. If we put our hope, for instance, in our navigation systems like google maps to successfully take us from one point to another with perfect timing, how much more we should rely on God to grant us access to the objects of our expectations.
Our hope will not disappoint us even when it does not look like it; let us keep the flame of hope burning. It is not about how it takes but how well it comes. As long as God is within the equation, our hope shall bear fruits. Yes, the Days are coming, and we shall remain HOPEFUL!
God bless you, and have a transforming advent season.