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Promise, Hope and Patience

A reflection for the 1st Sunday of Advent

By Fr. Ron

The title of this reflection are really themes we can easily associate with Advent.

When we speak of promise, of course, it is God’s promise. Historically, it was the promise that God would send a Savior. This promise was realized in Jesus. In today’s first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, we hear the Lord say that he will fulfil his promise. Likewise, we have the promise that Jesus made as he ascended that he would be with us always. Jesus also promised that he will come again in glory at the end of the ages. Our gospel today once again gives both a warning and a promise. God is faithful and those who are also faithful will have nothing to fear. God is true to his promise; God is faithful; God can be trusted.

That is the basis of the second Advent theme of Christian hope. As a Christian virtue, hope is all about confidence. Christian hope is not some kind naïve optimism. Rather, hope is confident assurance. Ultimately, the basis for our hope is the resurrection of Jesus.

The third Advent theme is patience. The reason we can be patient is because of the faithfulness of God. If God has made a promise, it will be fulfilled. As so we can wait and persevere to the end. We see that patience of the Israelite people who waited patiently for the coming of the Messiah. We wait still for his final coming.

World AIDS Day is this week (December 1). We have reason to hope. There is good news and bad news. In all but seven countries in the world, the spread of AIDS has decreased or levelled off. The bad news is that the Philippines is one of those seven countries where AIDS is still on the rise. But much has been done.

Patient work for so many years has finally paid off. Strong educational programs are making an impact. Persistent advocacy has moved nations to allocate more resources. Medical research has made great progress in both prevention and treatment.

These and many other efforts have enabled this disease to be brought under control. Just ten years ago, no one thought it was possible. Tireless efforts, plus of course, the blessing of God have resulted in amazing progress. God has used dedicated men and women to bring healing where some thought it was impossible.

We can be rightfully proud of our Church in this effort. Did you know that around the world, 25% of education, prevention, treatment, and counselling for people living with AIDS is provided by the Catholic Church? There is so much more to be done and I hope that the Church will continue to be a leader in the fight against this deadly disease, especially in the countries where it is still an epidemic.

But we have reason to hope. There are other issues in our world today that call for us as Christians to increase our efforts. Our prayers to the God who is faithful have to be matched by the concerted efforts of Christians and all people of good will.

When we look at problems like the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty, the economic crisis, terrorism, nuclear weapons, human trafficking, racism, so many forms of abuse, and a host of other problems… we cannot lose hope.

Once again, God’s faithfulness must be accompanied by our efforts. God is faithful to his promise to be with us until the end. We must trust more in the Lord and redouble our efforts. We must advocate for just solutions to the world’s problems. We must work patiently and steadfastly, knowing that if we are on the side of truth and justice, we will ultimately be victorious.

Jesus has already conquered sin and death. He will triumph over every other evil in our world as well. Advent is a time for us to strengthen our hope in God. It is a time to delight in God’s promise. It is a time to commit ourselves to work patiently in God’s campaign against injustice and evil.

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