Franciscan Spirit Blog

‘Tis the Season of Hope

Christmas tree | Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

One wonderful gift that God gives us is the virtue of hope. Will the acceptance of this gift be different this year because of recent and ongoing tragedies?

Because of the racial unrest in the countrywe are far from Isaiah’s vision of peace and harmony that the Messiah would bring: the lamb being the guest of the wolf, the calf and the young lion browsing together, the baby playing by the cobra’s den. We pray for all the victims of racial injustice as well as those who have lost their lives to COVID-19. We support those working for peace and justice, but we cannot lose hope.

Hope is a gift from God. Our trust is in him. Christ has already become human and walks and suffers with us. We’ve received the Holy Spirit in Baptism and Confirmation. All during Advent, we’ve been praying for Jesus to come more fully into our lives: “Come, Lord Jesus!” We pray with fellow believers in-person or from afar: “Open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving him with joy.” These words give me hope.

The Power of Mercy

We have two feasts in December for Mary. On December 8, we celebrated that she was conceived without sin. She was never in any way tainted by evil. Her wholehearted trust in God and a life of love and service give me hope. We pray to her as the patroness of our country.

On December 12, we relived Mary’s appearing to Juan Diego. She was dressed as an Aztec princess and had Indian features. She shared her son’s message that God embraces all nations and cultures. That message of hope and love touches all of us in the Americas. Within six years of her apparition, some estimate that nine million Aztecs were baptized. That gives me hope.

Pope Francis opened up new vistas for us by declaring the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015 and 2016. His words bolstered my hope. Consider these powerful statements:

  • “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy…. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth.”
  • “The Father of Mercy sent his only Son into the world, born of the Virgin Mary, to reveal his love for us in a definitive way.”
  • “Mercy is the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”
  • “Mercy instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”

And I see so much goodness in the world, especially as we approach Christmas. So many reach out to the needy and share the love and joy of Christ. My heart is hopeful! I smile with thanks and ask Mary’s help in accepting God’s gifts of love and especially hope in this time of turmoil.

“Come, Lord Jesus!”

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