December 11, 2022

III Sunday Advent
Year A
Fr. Jonathan Reardon

Hope is defined as the ‘feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.’ Hope as a virtue is defined as ‘the state of being on the way’ … Expectation – the strong belief that something will happen or the case for the future…. The state of being on the way – moving forward… In both of these definitions of hope we find ourselves in movement. Yet, to where? Where does hope lead us? It implies that where we are headed will naturally be in our favor… The problem usually associated with hope is that what is expected is generally left unseen… it hinges on promises and dreams of a brighter future. Hope brings joy. A joyful anticipation…

          John the Baptist was the herald of such hope for the Israelite people. His ministry was a ministry of hope – the one who the Jewish people had been expecting was arriving on scene. It was John’s job to lead the people to Him… not only to announce that their hope was about to become reality but to lead them in the joy of the Savior’s arrival… Which makes this gospel so strange… Why did John have to ask about Him? Why did he make inquiry about Jesus? Didn’t he know? Did the darkness of his imprisonment cloud his vision, taint his hope, make him second guess himself? Or maybe Jesus – who he would’ve known – didn’t meet his expectations? Whatever the reason, John needed reassurance…

          John’s inquiry seems to align quite perfectly with our own journey of faith. We know Jesus, we know who He is, we know what He is about… but at times it seems like we don’t know Him… at times it seems like He doesn’t meet our expectations. Can this Church – with all its scandals and abuses – be a Godly institution, the Church of the Living God? I think to answer this question we have to turn to St. Paul – “rejoice in the Lord always, I say it again, rejoice.” Never has the Church not rejoiced in the Lord. Never has the Church canceled “Gaudete Sunday” … And why is that? Because in all things Jesus offers us something new… He breathes new life into our weary hearts and souls. His compassion and mercy isn’t always about physical healings… it is also spiritual healings – He opens our hearts, our minds, and our eyes to see Him, feel His presence and calm our hearts with profound love … Christ gives us hope. Perhaps we have to let go of what we expect from Him, put aside that which we think is the right way and allow for the graces of God to show us, teach us, and heal our wounded hearts… In very particular way confession does just that for us. Confession humbles us in the sight of God, makes us more vulnerable to His direction and allows ourselves to be led by God… Confession offers us the joyful hope that what He promises – while perhaps not the way in which we expected – will come to life in us. For we forget – Jesus is closer to us than what we think… Hope allows Him to open our eyes to that nearness.

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