A time to celebrate Hope
A permanent feature of Pope Francis’ message is the reference to joy and hope. Two of the most inspired texts of his pontificate—the Evangelii gaudium (2013) and Amoris Laetitia (2016) exhortations—even include the word joy in their titles! Concerning hope, Pope Francis states in Evangelii gaudium, “Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of hope!” (EG 86) and as such Pope Francis continues Benedict XVI’s magisterium, where the latter dedicated one of his most important encyclicals, Spe salvi (2007) to hope.
For both Benedict XVI as well as Pope Francis, joy and hope are linked. Whether we go from hope to joy or from hope to joy, the foundations are to be found in our relationship with God, a source of communion for a life fully integrated into the community. Thus, where this relationship between the life of grace and the brotherly community really exists, it is possible to truly experience joy and hope. What greater joy can there be than to be with those whom we love? The meaning of celebration, is it not be found in the celebration of living in community and finding ourselves with our brothers? It is only thus that we can build the basis of trust in and for the future. This is what we understand when we think of hope, in the sense of trust that we can place in a person and ultimately in God.
Advent is the liturgical time for celebrating the joy of hope that springs from trust in the Lord’s presence, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” (Mt 18:20)
We can consider two essential characteristics of hope: the memory of the past and the memory of the future.
Concerning the memory of the past, Advent celebrates God’s promises that are already accomplished and the Canticle of Simeon is one of the most beautiful expressions of this. “Now, Lord, let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled; for my eyes have seen your salvation…” (Lk 2:39-30) And as for the memory of the future, Advent projects the story that God still wants to undertake and accomplish with each one of us. What exemplifies Christian hope is its link with the trust in God’s presence, celebrated in faith and the sacraments, but not yet in the perfection that we will find only in the vision face to face with God.
Bearing witness to the joy of couples who believe in the grace of the sacrament of marriage, source of hope for the Church and for the world, is inherent in the charisma and mission of the Teams of Our Lady! Yes, this is the context in which we are invited to experience our Advent, with a sense of joy, hope and mission!
Father José Jacinto Ferreira de Farias, scj
Spiritual Counsellor to the ERI (International Leading Team)