The Prophet Baruch wrote in the most difficult of times.
Jerusalem had been destroyed and lay in ruins and her people exiled to Babylon.
Yet in this very bleak moment
He finds hope
Hope for the city he loved
Hope for his people and the restoration of Israel.
His hope was rooted in the Covenant.
The Covenant is God’s promise of friendship and faithful love for his people even when we are unfaithful.
Yes even his most distressing circumstances,
Baruch found hope
In the reading from the Philippians Paul writes
I pray always with Joy in my every prayer for you
I am confident of you
While reading this it is important to remember that Paul was in prison
When he wrote this and he knew his future is bleak.
He also knew that the community of Philippi was divided very divided.
There were both doctrinal and personality disputes among the community.
Yet with all that he faced and all of the disappointments, worries and issues
which threatened his beloved communities he continued to hope.
He is able to write those words and be filled hope and confidence because of his faith in the Lord Jesus, his conviction that the person he met on the road to Damascus would not abandon him or those he loved.
Paul dared to hope
And Paul dared to never stopping hoping
The list of people at the beginning of the Gospel does not present us with much hope.
They area all pretty much powerful scoundrels
(They make our polititians look good)
They are devoted to their own interests and influence, power and domination.
They are running the show.
They have all the cards
It certainly seems with them in control like an inhospitable time for the coming of the Messiah.
Yet strengthened by his time in the desert
John the Baptist dares to hope
Dares to believe
And the last prophet of the Old Testament
and the first Martyr of the New Testament
Proclaims the coming of the Kingdom and calls for repentance
By his courage and by his hope
He inspires a people to hope
To hope for something better
To hope for change
And by his example of hope he makes the ground fertile for the coming of Jesus
Brothers and Sisters
All of us carry burdens
All of us of have to deal with our fears and failings
Many times if people would look at our lives or if we would look at them ourselves
it would see doubtful that there is any reason to hope at all.
I know marriages where the couples have slowly grown apart. They are not sure they can rekindle the love they once had. They feel alone and sad and are afraid to hope.
We live in violent times
We are all heart broken by what happened in Paris and San Bernadino
We all live with the fear of terrorism and wonder where the next shooting will be.
And we are so saddened by all of those times in the papers or on the news when hate seems to win.
Yet the readings today are calling us to hope
If Baruch could hope in exile in the bleakest of circumstances we must dare to hope
If Paul could write about joy from prison we too must dare to hope
If John the Baptist can hope in the bleakest of times we must also hold one to hop
We have must trust in our relationship with God
we must take God at his word and we must hold on to hope. .
Our vices or bad habits
The evil and hate in the world don’t have to win
The good news is that we have power over them
Humanity has the power to change
The ability to love
And the all of us have received the call to look fear in the eye and to forgive.
The Word of God today on this second Sunday of Advent is very challenging
If you find its message easy you have not understood it at all
No matter what our circumstance
No matter what our fear
Hope is ours for the taking to give
For our reason to hope is rooted in the very faithfulness of God who loves us.