December 21, 2016

Advent is the Season of Blessed Hope

Mary and the Christ Child with Angels
Detail,Virgin of the Angels, Adolphe-William Bouguereau, 1881.

Blessedness is not a matter of external circumstances or emotion. It is possible to feel blessed even in the midst of great suffering, difficulty and uncertainty. Things also can be "blessed." Jesus once told his disciples, "Blessed are your eyes... Blessed are your ears." Elsewhere in Scripture, we see that patience is a blessed thing. So is trust. So is hope. The Beatitudes include more examples.

Advent is a season of blessing. We reflect upon Christ’s Incarnation 2,000 years ago, and how our Savior defeated sin and death, opening up for us the gates of heaven. We are reminded of his Second Coming at the end of time, when He will return as King of the universe. Finally, we prepare during Advent to welcome Christ our "blessed hope" into our hearts. In the words of Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.:

"The current translation of the Roman Missal has restored the phrase 'Blessed hope' in the prayer following the Our Father. Until two years ago It read, 'As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.' Now, like the Latin original, it reads, 'As we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.'

The 'blessed hope' is the firm confidence in 'his coming.' Like the quality of mercy, it is twice blessed: It is blessed in its object, namely the return of Christ; and it is blessed in the courage it inspires.

The expression comes from Titus 2:13: 'For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, and the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ.'"

This describes Advent perfectly: it is the season of Blessed Hope.

Excerpted from Fr. Butler's "Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year A".

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