The above excerpt is from the second reading on the second Sunday of Advent. It reminds us that waiting in expectant hope is the central theme of the Advent season. St Paul reminds us that there are examples in the scriptures of people who never gave up hope and can thus serve as an inspiration to us in our Christian journey.
One such example is the prophet Isaiah who is a key figure during Advent. This prophet was writing over 500 years before the coming of Christ. When Babylon invaded Israel, destroyed the Jerusalem and razed the Temple Isaiah hastily gathered fragments of scripture of the earlier part of the book of Isaiah, and brought them with him as the people were taken off into exile to Babylon. Throughout the exile Isaiah encouraged the exiled Israelites, reminding them of the promises of God, reassuring them that one day they would return, and helping them to keep hope alive. Isaiah’s trust was not misplaced; when Cyrus invaded Babylon the Persians freed the Israelites to return to their homeland.
In our own time too, there are ‘examples of people who did not give up hope’ and ‘who serve to teach us something about hope’.
This Advent season is a really difficult time for many people in Ireland. Many households are genuinely struggling to make ends meet. The temptation to despair is not far away.
Advent is a call to wait in hopeful expectation. It is a time for recognising that the most important things can never be taken from us, our spirit, our hope, our optimism, our sense of community and care for each other.