The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light.
This is the powerful message proclaimed in the Christmas midnight liturgy. These bold words of the prophet Isaiah, uttered long before Christ was born, still find a strong echo in our hearts today.

We live in a time of unequalled material prosperity and comfort, yet we feel ourselves and our world surrounded by the darkness of uncertainty and hopelessness: we feel our world lacks a sense of direction and we find it more and more difficult to trust our leaders, who often appear mostly interested in their own private agendas. This selfish spirit seems to have gripped us too, for we find ourselves resisting what we know is right, like adopting a more ecologically friendly lifestyle or welcoming refugees knocking at the doors of our hearts.

Every year the season of Advent comes to draw us out of these feelings of helplessness and despair by reminding us that we are called to move out of the darkness of selfishness to live in the light. Our feelings of utter powerlessness remind us that we do need a Saviour, one who is coming into our lives and in the life of our world.

Yet we resist the idea of a saviour: we are convinced we are own saviours, capable of finding a simple and fast solution to all our problems. Could it be that the surrounding darkness is nudging us to accept the need of someone who can lead us into the light of true human living? The Bible tells us that this Saviour is not a force that will rule us blindly, but the Emmanuel, one of us, God with us.

Like a mother’s pregnancy, Advent is a time of sweet expectation, as we wait for light, for a saviour who will lead his people out of darkness. This attitude of expectation does not come spontaneously, and these Advent blogs will reflect on the virtue of hope, and on how we can revive it.

We must not let hope abandon us, because God, with his love, walks with us. Each one of us can say: “I hope, I have hope, because God walks with me”. He walks and he holds my hand. God does not leave us to ourselves. The Lord Jesus has conquered evil and has opened the path of life for us. (Pope Francis)

These Advent blogs are inspired by a series of talks given by Pope Francis on the subject of hope during his weekly Wednesday audiences. These 38 talks can be found in e-book form at http://opusdei.ie/en-ie/article/god-walks-with-me-pope-francis-on-hope/

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