By Sister Barbara Bir, OSU

Our present world can seem like the end of time that Matthew tells us about.  “So it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Mt. 24:40-44

This past year the pandemic continues to take lives. Hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods take homes, loved ones and jobs. Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine and the world holds its breath. Gun violence seems to spare no one. We suffer our own personal tragedies. Who will be next? And when?

If we let it, all of this suffering and fear could lead us to a dark place. Indeed, the season of Advent comes in the midst of our darkening days here in the Northern Hemisphere. What can we do? We must live in hope!

Oscar Romero reminds us: “Christ is NOW in history. (Emphasis mine.) Christ is in the womb of the people. Christ is now bringing about the new heavens and the new earth. Since Christ came to earth, he continues to be incarnate in everyone. Christ is still bringing hope to the peoples here on earth, something that began on earth like when a stone is cast into a quiet lake and starts ripples that finally reach the farthest shores. Christ appeared in Zebulun and Naphtali with signs of liberation: shaking off oppressive yokes, bringing joy to hearts, sowing HOPE. And this is what God is doing now in history.” (St. Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love)

Mingled with faith, we discover that we need hope, too. Faith and hope that help us believe that Emmanuel means “God-is-with-us” now. Today. Everyday. In you and me and in all of creation.

Advent and Christmas give us the opportunity to pray and  believe that God is within us now. Working. Strengthening our hope in these trying time.

As St. Teresa of Avila says:

“CHRIST has no body but yours; no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which His compassion looks out upon the world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.”