Hopes and Expectations in Advent


I recently came across these lines from the great Catholic writer Hilaire Belloc:

Kings live in palaces and pigs in sties
But youth in expectation. Youth is wise.

Yes, as a youth, I still remember the excitement that comes with expectations. Hope kept me wanting to leap from day to day. There were nights I would not sleep a wink in great anticipation of a big event the next day, like a fiesta we would be going to, or coming home from the seminary, or going on a field trip or excursion. As I grew up, hopes and expectations provided the motive force for many events in my life. I remember the many wonderful moments hoping, preparing and working for my graduations, my employments, my wedding, my children. In my career, I looked forward and hoped and exerted for and enjoyed the anticipation of a promotion, a new project and even some presentations. Hope gives color and vibrancy even to an otherwise ordinary experience.

Today, I can see the excitement in Jonathan and Jane as they helped their Mommy put up the christmas tree. I can sense all the hope and anticipation they have for the coming Christmas holiday. And it is not just the presents they will be getting they are excited about. There are the people they will see, the family gatherings they will enjoy, the Christmas parties at school and with friends they will have, the snow in Minnesota they will frolic in, the food they will share together with the games and the fun and the laughter.

What I was younger, I saw my hopes and anticipations growing ever bigger and bigger everyday. Today, there seems to be less and less to hope for. Back then, my world was ever growing wider because of the many people I kept on meeting and knowing. Today, my world is getting smaller and smaller as I get to meet and know less and less people. And many of those I already know are one by one leaving for good.

Still, it is hope and anticipation that gives color and vibrancy to my life. I still look forward to our weekly movie Mondate with Anabelle. I always look forward to go on a good hike, even in wintry weather. And vicariously, I share in the hopes and dreams of my sons, their families, specially the grandchildren. I love it that I do those things that I want and love to do; and not those things that I am required and obligated to do.

Of course, I think a lot about my final hope and expectation. How will the end come? What will it be like on the other side? Is there even an other side? How is it in any way possible since it seems so unlikely given what we know about the laws of nature? Will I get to see again all my loved ones who have gone before? But isn’t is exciting how the impossible is made possible by an Almighty and Loving God?  If He can become man, He can make me share in His divinity. These musings often get me really stimulated and worked up. Deep inside, I know that the best is yet to come.

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
~Psalm 80

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:33-37


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