The Second Sunday
D. G. Phillips
Petite Riviere, Broad Cove, LaHave – December 9,
Romans 15:4-13 Luke 21:25-33
things begin to come to pass, then look up,
and lift up
your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.
have entered the season of Advent – of quiet expectation. It is a
season for the renewal, the rekindling, of hope.
Now the God
of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye
may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
What is hope?
poet describes it like this:
Hope, … is certainty of bliss
To come, which God by grace to us concedes
And for our previous merit promises. [Dante,
Paradiso xxv, 67-69]
is one of the three theological virtues – faith, hope and charity –
it “may be defined as the desire and search for a future good,
difficult but not impossible to attain.”
hope can be natural, worldly, or our hope can be supernatural,
spiritual. And in Advent we are reminded that, just as last week,
our loves will be judged, so this week, our hopes will
come under judgement.
world hopes in the things of this life only – whether it be health,
wealth, power, success in worldly affairs, or even the success of
earthly kingdoms. All of these things will fade in time. Young
people, with a whole life ahead of them, often have much of this
kind of hope – and yet it is not a hope which endures. It is a hope
which even if fulfilled leaves one still wanting, and when it is no
longer possible to fulfill leads to despair. [Joseph Pieper, Hope]
St. Paul does just pray that we should abound in hope, period, but
that we might abound in a a certain kind of hope, a supernatural
hope. He prays that we might
abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Christian hope has an opposite quality to worldly hope. We have
little of it when we are young and our faith is feeble, but it grows
as a gift, as we begin to turn our minds and hearts to the eternal
promises of God – to the hope of salvation, the expectation of
bliss, the beatific vision of God, the union of our souls with God
in a mystical marriage. [Joseph Pieper, Hope] As we
age, as we begin to lose our health, to trust less in worldly
wealth, if we are believers our hope is transformed. We long for
the things that endure forever, we see that God and our neighbour
are most important. Worship of God becomes most important, because
only God is worthy of worship. Our connections with family –
especially if they are Christian connections – and our friendship
with others Christians, a friendship grounded upon the same
supernatural hopes, become most important.
What about the judgement of our hopes?
Gospel today Jesus speaks of end times, of a kind of apocalypse:
There shall be
signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the
earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves
roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after
those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven
shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a
cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to
come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your
redemption draweth nigh.
Then Jesus says, Verily I
say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be
So he seems to
begin speaking about the end times, His second coming, but then he
also speaks of its fulfillment in each generation.
The trials and
tribulations of this life, that each of us know and face –
distress, perplexity, the crashing waves of our inner
turmoil, our hearts failing us for fear of what is next –
these experiences are to be understood as moments of judgement of
what is truly important to us, it is a judgement of our hopes. And
Jesus says, at that moment, it is for us, as His followers, to look
lift up our heads, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh. Our
hopes are being purified in the fire of adversity. A youthfulness
returns to us, as we become unconcerned about the dashing of worldly
hopes or of the fulfilling worldly hopes, and we are renewed in our
hope of the life of eternity which is stretched out or opened up
before us. We no longer envy the young, full of worldly hopes and
possibilities, but we encourage them quietly, maybe even
mischievously, to look up also, to know the supernatural hope, the
eternal youth, the eternal liveliness, that comes only from God.
is this supernatural hope kindled in us? How can we get a booster
shot of this gift from above?
things were written aforetime, were written for our learning; that
we, through patience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have
Then he goes on to list quotations from Deuteronomy (from the Law),
from the Psalms (the writings) and from Isaiah (the Prophets). In
other words, he shows a consistent message throughout what he knew
then of the Scriptures – the Old Testament – showing God’s
fulfillment of promises of salvation to both Jew and Gentile through
When we read the Bible, regularly, our worldly hopes come under
continual judgement. When we see the worldliness of Israel
condemned by God in the prophets, we reflect on our own lives. When
we see the bright beams of heavenly promises of a coming Messiah, we
are reminded of where our hope lies. When we read of the purity of
heart and the vision of true love revealed in Jesus and His apostles
we remember that we are not there yet, but are still on our journey
of growing in holiness – our hope is renewed. When we read the
promises held out to us of future glory, our hope brings us through
the darkest of times.
don’t trust in the words of the Bible themselves as if they were our
salvation, but they point us to the Word Incarnate – Jesus Christ –
who is our salvation.
Think of the suggested daily Bible readings, in the table on the
back of your bulletins, as our booster shot in hope.
course our hope is also renewed and perfected as we gather here
Sunday by Sunday, to hear God’s word read and spoken about. Here we
reflect on the promises that God’s word contains and our hope is
here, in the Holy Communion, we are reminded that our God is a God
of patience and consolation – He will forgive all our sins and
assure us as we partake of His Body and Blood that we are living
members of His mystical body…and heirs through hope of [His]
who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:
Grant that we may in such wise hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly
digest them, that by patience, and comfort of thy holy Word, we may
embrace, and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,
which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.