December 18, 2021 Essay: The Thrill of Hope, The Weary World Rejoices
There is a weariness afoot in our land, in this moment whose cadence at times overtakes our sensibilities and tempts us to follow a path of despair. Some fret over the possibility that Omicron will one day be replaced by a series of Greek letters that will not end with Omega but will lead to even more worrisome scenarios of disease and death. All of us are wearied by a routine of living not within our control and whose endpoint is unknown.
Somber clouds are gathering in a whirlwind of uncertainty. The world’s superpowers are once again involved in a game of one-upmanship. A cycle of violence is erupting on our city streets. Civil discourse and common courtesies have been replaced by tirades of partisanship. Discrimination and injustices are being legitimized. Climate change is playing havoc in once serene places. Misery has become a way of life for many. Bread lines are longer, and those who are homeless are far too great in number for a world awash in resources enjoyed by far too few. Drumbeats can be heard in the distance in a tempo of frenzy that has been unprecedented in our time. The world is weary and losing patience waiting for a way out from the entanglement of today’s baffling realities.
This Sunday we enter the fourth week of Advent, a season of waiting. A reasonable question that may be asked is, what or whom are we waiting for? After all, the good news that anchors our faith is the birth of Jesus Christ which happened more than 2000 years ago, the defining moment of all time when God Himself entered human history and was born of a simple young woman in a nondescript town.
Over the centuries the story of his birth has been told in elegant prose and poetic beauty. Its romance is captured in carols familiar to our ears and in nativity scenes that give delight to the eye. In the re-telling of the story of his birth, our hearts beat in a gentle rhythm; we allow ourselves to imagine a world that captures the stillness of the night where even the voices of angels could be heard giving glory to God, heralding peace on earth. Perhaps it is that promise of peace that we are waiting for, a rekindling of hope that will vanquish our weariness and light a path to a future where we will join the joyful chorus of those who believe that a child’s birth in Bethlehem two millennia ago matters for our world today.
Let us recall that at a time and in a place where faith in goodness was a scarce commodity the darkness of a gloomy night was pierced by the brilliance of a solitary star, directing people to a well-spring of promise, to an infant in a stable’s manger. Jesus Christ was born into a world fraught with fear and foreboding, doubt and despair, prejudice and injustice. A lifeline of love joining God to humankind was fashioned that night. His birth dispelled the darkness so that eyes could be opened to a new reality. On that night, hope was rekindled, and the burden of weariness lifted.
And so, in answer to my earlier question, I believe it is peace that we once again wait for during this season of Advent – peace of mind and heart, peace among people, the peace that is the precious gift of Jesus Christ, born on Christmas Day. It is that harmony that the chorus of angels announced on that holy night, bringing with it the thrill of hope and making a weary world rejoice. May our voices join with theirs so that we may bring a message of peace to a world whose hope needs to be rekindled and whose reason to rejoice restored. Through the darkness of this night a new and glorious morn is breaking forth, for God is with us, Emmanuel, the Prince of Peace.
— Rev. Dennis J. Yesalonia, S.J., Pastor