The word “Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, which means “coming”. It is the time of preparation for the second coming of the Lord. In the liturgy, Advent, as preparation for Christmas, is reduced to four weeks, but true Advent has no time limit, it is a daily, year-round attitude, a disposition of the heart.
Among the most significant attitudes during this season, hope stands out. It is a highly motivating value in the face of so much routine, discouragement, fatigue or short of expectations. We all greatly need hope, it is impossible to survive without it. The hope that has animated so many generations of believers manifests to us in a special way each Advent.
JESUS is the greatest hope possible so that all of humanity and each one of us can move forward. He approaches us daily in different ways and through various symbols: his word, the community, the sacraments, the poor, certain events, the cross of each day… He meets us at the ground, in the street, along the roads…. The Gospel of this first Sunday expresses it with great enthusiasm: “Stand up, lift up your heads, your redemption is near!” (Lk. 21,28).
The Sacred Scripture in speaking of hope during this season, presents us with the great figures of hope in Advent.
The first is Saint John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord, the one who paved the way with his hope for the coming of Christ, through his penitential lifestyle and his preaching, regardless of the consequences.
However, the great models of the hope of Advent are Mary and Joseph.
Joseph, from the city of Nazareth in Galilee, from the house and lineage of David (Lk. 2,4) married to Mary. He is an upright man, full of hope; who had to trust firmly in God in order to fulfill the role that awaits him, as described in a dream by an angel who told him that the son to be born of Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and would be called Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Joseph is presented as one who trusted God at all times, notwithstanding his difficult role in the plan of God.
Mary is honored with different titles, a special one is “Our Lady of Hope.”
The real stars of our life are the people who have lived holy lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light… but to be able to reach him we also need lights closer to us: people who shine with their light and guide us on our way. Who else but Mary could be that star of Hope for us? With her “Fiat” she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living sanctuary of the Covenant, in which God became flesh, became one of us and set up his tent among us (cf. Jn. 1,14).
When the invitation to be the Mother of God was presented to her, Mary wondered how she could play the role. But she never doubted, she believed that what was told her by the Lord would be fulfilled.
Let us look at Mary and Joseph as true models of hope in this sacred season of Advent. Let us live this moment with joy.
Before the manger on Christmas Day, let us renew our commitment to be bearers of hope in the world.
A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all!
My fraternal embrace and prayer,
Sor Mª Asunción González, O.P.