Proverbs warns that “HOPE deferred makes a heart sick” (13:12a), but why?
Gregory of Nyssa (335-395), early Church Father, wrote about the hungering soul:
HOPE is always drawing the soul away from the beauty which it sees to what lies beyond, ever kindling the desire for the hidden by means of what is continually perceived. Someone who deeply loves beauty receives what he sees as an image of what he longs for and still longs to be filled with the very imprint of the archetype.Gregory of Nyssa, Life of Moses
Hope is an emotional and spiritual hunger, which is always and forever seeking fulfillment beyond the present, beyond the perceived, and beyond the imagination.
Hallmark and Lifetime Holiday movies are teased for the consistent, predictable plot. And yet, this is a plot that inspires HOPE through depicting desired ‘perfect’ romances and happily ever-after endings. It is HOPE because it draws the individual into a desire for what lies behind and beyond the scenes.
The Hallmark and Lifetime HOPE is not different in principle than our Advent HOPE. Advent is a season of HOPEFUL anticipation and expectation.
- It is HOPE for the promised Messiah to come to Israel.
- It is HOPE for the Baby Jesus born into our broken world.
- It is HOPE for Jesus to return to our still broken world.
- It is HOPE for Jesus appearing, breaking into our world, and journeying alongside us daily.
Advent HOPE embodies seeking the divine presence of Peace, Joy, and Love composing the Kingdom of God to Come that is here now, near, and not yet fulfilled.
Advent HOPE beckons us to prepare our hearts, souls, and entire creation for said Kingdom to Come.
We should always engage said HOPE reaching beyond the present, the perceived, and our current abilities of imagination in and through our shared baptismal vocations to:
- Proclaim Christ is Word and Deed;
- Seek Justice;
- Act with Compassion and Mercy; and
- Love and Serve ALL people, especially the most vulnerable.
Whether body or soul, if hunger is not addressed it can cause fatigue, weakness, and eventually illness.
Whether deferred or not satisfied, HOPE can cause us to become exhausted, faint, and heart-sick.
Thus, it is essential that we seize the glimpses of the Kingdom Come in Peace, Joy, and Love to mend our hearts, comfort our souls, and empower us in our vocational efforts and imaginations as we await.
Since our Psalm (119: 48-50, 73-76, 80-82) emphasizes this HOPE in the word, or teachings, of God, may we dwell within said word during this Advent season and beyond. Amen.