Dear People of Hope,
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy” (Luke 21:34). We hear this in today’s Gospel reading. I must admit I’m feeling a bit drowsy after Thanksgiving celebrations, house guests, and now, all the sights and sounds of Christmas preparations (including toy magazines with lots of items circled and scattered all over our living room). It feels overwhelming and exhausting, yet today’s Gospel message asks us to “stand erect and raise your heads”. There is hope and reason to stay awake!
I can’t help but think of my Grammy as I write this; it’s the beginning of a new church year (she loved recording everything in her calendar), the month of December (she would have turned 100 on the 11th), and the first week of Advent (the last time I saw her was during this week last year).
The pandemic and old age could have depressed her as she was stuck in her apartment with no visitors and only the noise of the news. She could have been anxious and worried about her own health with the threat a new virus. She must have been exhausted doing chores and preparing meals without the help of my parents who had visited her daily for years.
She had every reason to let her heart “become drowsy” and to allow “the anxieties of daily life” to overwhelm her. But she didn’t. She continued to live with the “hope that doesn’t disappoint” (Romans 5:5); one of my favorite verses. A simple phone call, the daily reflection in her Advent book, a card in the mail, a photo of a great-grandchild – tiny gestures would awaken her heart! She lived in hope, sitting in her chair praying her rosary for all of us over and over again, so united with Jesus through the heart of Mary. She was and will forever be such a light in our lives.
After Grammy fell early in December last year, she started gaining strength and she had her Covid vaccine scheduled. Our hope of her recovery and spending more time with her grew as we continued to light the candles on our Advent wreath. Christmas morning, she suddenly became very sick and passed away two days later.
It didn’t take long for us to trust, that even in this, in the loss of one of the most important people in our lives, hope does not disappoint. She passed away on the feast of St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Family (very fitting) and we know that, through the gift of eternal life, we will all be together again one day.
Today, as we light the first purple candle on our Advent wreath, we see a small light overcoming the darkness in our homes, in our hearts, in the world. We are reminded of our call to be a light for others because the light of Christ is present within each of us. Let us all allow this light to pour hope into our hearts. Trusting that Jesus will come, trusting that God is with us, trusting that He calls each of us to be a light in our hurting world. Grammy was such a light in our lives and her light continues to be revealed in the stories shared with us from so many who were touched by her faith and hope.
May you stay alert during this season of Advent. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy.” Experience the hope that doesn’t disappoint.
Director of Formation