• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Sunday, 29 November 2020 07:00

1st Sunday of Advent - HOPE

 2020.53.sunday Advent 1.160x160

Do you associate Advent with candles?  In my family, lighting the candles on the Advent wreath at family prayers each night was a sought-after role! 

I also associate candles with hope.  A single candle lit in the darkness brings not only a focus-point, but a lessening of the darkness around it.  Hope is like that.  If I have a reason to hope in the midst of situations of difficulty and even despair, it lessens the “darkness” surrounding me.

One of the things that I love most about being a spiritual director is the constant state of hope that it leaves me in.  I get to regularly listen to ordinary people telling me about their relationship with God.  Over time, I watch them grow, and I am filled with awe at their courage and generosity and openness to God and what He is doing in their lives.  This fills me with a joyful anticipation of the results of this not only in their individual lives, but for the future of the Church and the world.  It’s like each person lights a candle of hope inside of me.

Today’s first reading includes the plea that God would “tear the heavens open” and “come down”.  Christmas, for which we are preparing, is certainly the story of God “coming down”, but not with the violence that tearing the heavens open suggests!  Instead we see a pattern of God lighting more and more candles of hope through ordinary people who are “awake” to His presence and invitation: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph…

The gospel today is a strong invitation for each of us to assess our own levels of “awakeness” to God’s presence and action in our lives.  Have we grown tired and dim through this difficult year?  Are we sitting down on the job of being candles of hope for a world caught in the darkness of pandemic and ongoing natural disasters?  Have we lost sight of Jesus, our ultimate source of hope?  

As we begin a new Church year, Advent is our opportunity to begin afresh, to “wake up” to what is really important in our lives (Jesus!), and allow Him to trim or re-light the candle of hope in our lives.

Lord, please help me to rediscover the hope that You bring to my life, and to allow you to make me a source of hope for others.

Katherine Stone