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Mystical Hope

The Theological Virtue of Hope

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Mystical Hope

The Theological Virtue of Hope
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Second Sunday of Advent

Mystical hope offers us an experience of trust that God’s presence, love, and mercy is in and all around us, regardless of circumstances or future outcome. Father Richard Rohr writes of such hope through our anticipation of Jesus’ coming during Advent:

“Come, Lord Jesus,” the Advent mantra, means that all of Christian history has to live out of a kind of deliberate emptiness, a kind of chosen non-fulfillment. Perfect fullness is always to come, and we do not need to demand it now. The theological virtue of hope keeps the field of life wide open and especially open to grace and to a future created by God rather than ourselves. This is exactly what it means to be “awake,” as the Gospel urges us! We can also use other a words for Advent: aware, alive, attentive, alert are all appropriate. Advent is, above all else, a call to full consciousness and also a forewarning about the high price of consciousness.

When we demand—or “hope for”—satisfaction from one another, when we demand any completion to history on our terms, when we demand that our anxiety or dissatisfaction be taken away, saying as it were, “Why weren’t you this for me? Why didn’t life do that for me?” we are refusing to say, “Come, Lord Jesus.” We are refusing to hold out for the full picture that is always still being given by God.

Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann views hope as trust in what God has done and will do, in spite of evidence to the contrary:

Hope in gospel faith is not just a vague feeling that things will work out, for it is evident that things will not just work out. Rather, hope is the conviction, against a great deal of data, that God is tenacious and persistent in overcoming the deathliness of the world, that God intends joy and peace. Christians find compelling evidence, in the story of Jesus, that Jesus, with great persistence and great vulnerability, everywhere he went, turned the enmity of society toward a new possibility, turned the sadness of the world toward joy, introduced a new regime where the dead are raised, the lost are found, and the displaced are brought home again. [1]

Richard continues:

“Come, Lord Jesus” is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope. Hope is the patient and trustful willingness to live without full closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source is beyond ourselves. We are able to trust that Christ will come again, just as Christ has come into our past, into our private dilemmas, and into our suffering world. Our Christian past then becomes our Christian prologue, and “Come, Lord Jesus” is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of cosmic hope.

References:
[1] Walter Brueggemann, A Gospel of Hope, compiled by Richard Floyd (Westminster John Knox Press: 2018), 104–105.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Franciscan Media: 2008), 1–3.

Story from Our Community:
With every morning’s reflection, brought together with so much love, under the guidance and spiritual vision of Father Richard, my day is expansive with the love of God. As a retired teacher and “lifelong learner,” I have found new ways to participate in the gifts I receive every day and to live with hope and an understanding that God’s mercy and love are eternal. Thanks so much to you all! —Hilda W.

Learn more about the Daily Meditations editorial team.

Image credit: Nicholas Kramer, Untitled (detail), 2021, photograph, Seattle. Used with permission.
Image inspiration: What if I stopped complaining about how suburban streetlights pollute the night sky and instead tried to discover what beauty their light could uncover? How could my commitment to seeing something as it is, without judgment, help me see beyond my initial impression of it?
—Nicholas Kramer, Photographer of December DM photo series
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