- Isaiah 2:1-5
- Romans 13:11-14
- Matthew 24:37-44
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples.
The “Act of Hope”, said as art of personal (non-liturgical) Morning and Evening devotions in traditional Western piety, both RC and WR Orthodox, is thus:
DEUS meus, cum sis omnipotens, infinite misericors et fidelis, spero Te mihi daturum, ob merita Iesu Christi, vitam aeternam et gratias necessarias ad eam consequendam, quam Tu promisisti iis qui bona opera facient, quemadmodum, Te adiuvante, facere constituo. In hac spe vivere et mori statuo. Amen.
O MY GOD, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. In this hope I stand to live and die. Amen.
Spero – “I hope” – is a cardinal Christian virtue, especially in this season of Advent (beginning today for the Liturgical West, although already in full swing for the East). Spero, I hope, is what this Season is about. We commemorate initially the hope for Israel’s long-expected Jesus, the hope with which his all-holy mother and earthly foster father awaited the Divine birth. We also celebrate the hope with which we all live, awaiting his return. These themes of Apocalypse and Fulfillment are carried to full term through the season, culminating in the “Great O Antiphons” which precede the Savior’s birth at Christmas. “I hope” is our watchword.
One could say that man is alive as long as he waits, as long as hope is alive in his heart. And from his expectations man recognizes himself: our moral and spiritual “stature” can be measured by what we wait for, by what we hope for.
Every one of us, therefore, especially in this Season which prepares us for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? What, at this moment of my life, does my heart long for? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for together? What unites our aspirations, what brings them together?
The Christian, asked for what he is hoping, should reply “The Advent of My Lord, be that in the next Mass, the next coming before me of his face in need, or the Second and glorious appearing.” We wait expectantly to see Jesus in all those ways: our Lord comes in the sacred Liturgy, in the hearts of those around us, and in his full power to Judge. But, for that second option, in others’ hearts, we have another work to accomplish: for we are to inculcate that same hope in those around us. We cannot, however, ask the poor simply to hope in God when they do not have hope for their next crust of bread, or their next child’s health care. Our sure sign of hope is the freedom with which we give to God, via the hands of the poor, all those things which God has given us.
Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh: that is not a political statement nor a social policy: we are not to reply to the poor, “Make no provision for the flesh”. But we are not to worry about our flesh. As we are in Christ, God will take care of us – and we shall take care of others in his name.
Again as I said in the lead up to Advent, this is not about Political actions, but about sedition. We are subverting the system, giving Caesar what his law requires, but giving God everything. We are not here to make Caesar care for the poor: we are to do that. We are not here to invite people, against their political will, to change public laws: we’re here to do the right thing. We will be judged by our deeds – not by the laws that govern our nation. In hac spe vivere et mori statuo. I stand to live and die in this hope… death may well come. If we do it right. We can always hope.