Saturday, December 1, 2012

Advent IS Hope and Change

People seem to have a common desire when it comes to hope. Hope to many of us means different things. We hope for better times ahead whether they be in the form of financial stability or success, a better job, a good marriage, having children, our health, etc. Change, when combined with hope means we seek a change in others and ourselves or a change in things around us that conforms  more closely to our own desires or wants.

When Obama campaigned for his first term as President he spoke of hope and change in such a way that many who heard him were captivated by these words. They felt that when he spoke of these two things he was actually echoing their own thoughts of what they believed hope and change meant in their own lives. He never really clarified what he himself meant by hope and change, but allowed others that heard him come to their own conclusions in what he meant. People wanted change in their lives and country for what ever reason and their hope was in Obama, the man to give it to them.

It took a whole generation for Americans to come to accept the belief that government was the source of benevolence, the source that would provide their every need. Though this belief was slow in coming and subtle in its approach, it nevertheless seeped into the American psyche that the government was the entity that would provide all we needed to live a happy and full life. As many have said before, half this nation now has an entitlement mentality, that they are entitled to have what others have whether they themselves have worked for it or even deserve it. Half of America now works for the other half and the balance has not yet leveled out.

The road to government dependency is now fully paved and many are embarking on it. As more and more people begin to see the government as their source of happiness and safety net the more they stray from what should be their hope and the change that true hope will bring about. It has been four years since Obama's hope and change has been implemented and now this nation has to come to grips with it. What we see is hope and change that is empty and with no substance. This is what a nation without God ends up with.

This year as in every year, we enter the season of Advent in preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. It is during this time of preparation that our hope, as faithful Catholics, for His return needs to be honed to a fine edge. It is during this time that true changes need to be made. Unlike Obama's hope and change, our hope and change is spiritual and eternal in nature and should begin with Christ and end with a change in our hearts.

My own yearning of hope and change has been rattled a bit by the elections though I had not placed it in government. No, I did not vote for Obama and no, I did not think that Romney had all the answers for this country, but I do think he would have given this country a bit more time in turning itself around. Calamities, destruction and disasters have always been catalysts for people to turn back to God and when we look around us today and see what we have wrought for ourselves, I believe that it is the wake up call that we've needed and knew was coming. Do not fool yourselves into thinking our politicians are solely responsible for our state of affairs. We voted for them. The responsibility falls right onto our laps.

Advent is a time of hope and this hope in Christ is sorely needed today. Changes made to our hearts to live out this message of Hope that Advent calls us towards is needed also, more than at any other time in our recent history. We all have a desire to see our societies reflect the good and moral nature of God but that will not happen without a true conversion in our hearts. Advent is not just to prepare for Christmas, but to prepare for our Lord's final coming. Lent calls us to fasting and prayer, yet Advent is no less a call to do the same in order to cleanse ourselves of the ungodly that we harbor within our hearts. We as individuals and as a nation need to call upon God to instill new hearts, pure hearts and more loving hearts in each of us if we expect our hope for change to be reflected in the world around us. 

This nation is in for some hard times, though they need not be unfruitful. We should not view the election results as a disaster, but as a time to open our eyes to the spiritual reality that surrounds us and is everlasting. We should look at the results of the last election as an opportunity to renew ourselves and our relationship with God. When we as faithful Catholics see society out of control and headed for an abyss, it is then we see ourselves clearly at the mercy of God. It is too bad that we have to wait until a disaster before we recognize this, but with every disaster comes a chance for healing.

When all seems lost it is then we look to the Shepherd to guide us. Faith needs to be tested in order for it to be strengthened and flourish, and believe me, our faith will and is already being tested. Be thankful for that. Asking God to instill in us a new heart during this season of Advent is a step in the right direction towards prioritizing what is truly important in our lives. It is the first step that should be taken. If we want to change the world, our nation and our society, we need to make changes in our hearts and that can only be done if we place our Hope and Change in God, beginning this Advent.

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