by Pope John Paul II. Know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Be sure that he will not delay (from the liturgy of December 17th).
The annual evocation of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem renews in the hearts of believers the certainty that God keeps his promises. Advent is, therefore, a powerful proclamation of hope, which deeply touches our personal and communitarian concerns.
Every man and woman dreams of a more just and supportive world where a dignified standard of living and peaceful coexistence harmonize relations between individuals and peoples.
All too often, however, this is not the case. Obstacles, disputes and difficulties of various kinds burden our life and sometimes almost overwhelm it. The strength and courage required to strive for good risk yielding to evil, which seems at times to have the upper hand. It is especially at these moments that hope comes to our rescue.
The mystery of Christmas, which we eagerly anticipate, assures us that God is the Emmanuel—God-with-us. He is close to us. He became one of us. He shared our pilgrimage on earth, guaranteeing us the attainment of that joy and peace to which we aspire from the depths of our being.
There is also another aspect of Christian hope that deserves emphasis during this time of year.
Advent and especially Christmas are a reminder to the person who rises above daily affairs and seeks communion with God that it was God who took the initiative of coming to meet him. In becoming a child, God assumed our human nature and established once and for all his covenant with the whole of humanity.
We can thus conclude that the meaning of Christian hope, presented anew by Advent is that of confident expectation, of hardworking willingness and joyful openness to the encounter with the Lord. He came to Bethlehem to remain with us forever.
Let us therefore nourish these days of preparation for the birth of Christ with the light and warmth of hope.
This is the wish I offer to you. I entrust it to the motherly intercession of Mary, Model and Pillar of our hope.
Excerpted from a homily, December 17, 2003.
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