We're in the final days of Advent, days of expectation and hope. Many people, especially children, are hoping to find certain things under the Christmas tree. Such hopes are not very big. God's hope for us is much bigger and as we prepare for Christmas we want to share that hope.
The world today and life in general offer plenty of opportunities to lose hope. Pope Francis, following Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has emphasized the need for hope. Hope is more than "wishful thinking." We can say, "I hope it won't snow so that our Christmas travel plans won't be affected," but there is nothing we can do to stop the snow. However, if we are a student and say, "I hope I pass the test,"--that's a hope that we can do something about. We can study to make sure our hope is realized!
Hope is active. It involves effort so that what we are hoping for is attained.
So, what is God's hope for us and how do we share that hope? God's hope is for loving union with us. God created us to be one with him forever in the kingdom of heaven. This is why God became human, uniting in one person two natures--human and divine. That's the mystery we will be celebrating in a few days. Because God is Love, he cannot force his hope upon us. We are free to reject God's hope for us. Advent and in fact our entire life is a preparation to accept God's hope for us once and for all when God comes to us at the end of our earthly lives.
In his General Audience of November 27, 2013, Pope Francis said: "If my life has been a journey with the Lord, a journey of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the final moment of my earthly life as the definitive, confident abandonment into his welcoming hands, awaiting the face to face contemplation of his Face. This is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us: to contemplate face to face the marvelous countenance of the Lord, to see Him as he is, beautiful, full of light, full of love, full of tenderness. This is our point of arrival: to see the Lord."
On that first Christmas, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us" (Luke 2: 15). May we be as eager as they were to see the Lord face to face. May we have the same hope that God has for us and live in a way that leads to the realization of that deep hope.