No one can offer you more hope than Jesus Christ. In a world broken by sin, this season of hope we call Advent calls each one of us to turn our eyes to the stable in Bethlehem where our Savior took on flesh and became one of us, to show us the way of forgiveness and love.
He was born into a world not unlike the one we live in today, where paganism abounded and many had abandoned faith in the one true God. He grew up under the care of the humble Blessed Virgin Mary and His foster father, St. Joseph, learning to work with His hands.
The prophet Isaiah, who lived some 800 years before Christ, called Him “a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity” (Is 53:3). Our Blessed Mother, it can safely be assumed, spent more than a few nights comforting a feverish Child Jesus, anxiously soothing sore throats, stomach viruses and all the ills and maladies that back then could spell death. Under her tender care and the steady gaze of a hardworking Joseph, Jesus grew. Is it any surprise His first miracle came at His mother’s request? She who carried Him in her womb “with love beyond all telling,” as our liturgy proclaims, she who had been at His side every moment?
He walked with the disciples and mingled with the crowds, searching for the sinners and outcasts, those despised by the powerful. He brought healing with the touch of His hand. He wasn’t afraid to confront evil or speak awkward, unpopular truths.
He came to know the sorrow of loneliness and betrayal and in spite of all of it, gave Himself over to an agonizing death to save us. He did it fully aware that many would reject Him. He did it knowing the horror of our sins and that millions of us would ridicule or attempt to water down His teachings.
He did it for you and for me. And He’d do it again.
That is the message of Advent, the message our world so desperately needs. We Catholics, even in the midst of this horrible crisis in our Church, can be proud of the fact that we’ve been proclaiming the saving message of hope in Christ for 2,000 years. Nothing can stop that. Especially when you and I decide today that we want to turn from the sin in our lives and give Jesus Christ control over everything — our past with all its mistakes and sins, our present with all its struggles, and our future with all its uncertainty. Let’s let our Savior truly be our savior, not just a sentimental idea or the “wise teacher” many modernists claim He is. When we make Jesus Christ truly Lord of our lives, we can’t help but overflow with His love and beam His hope to everyone around us.
That hope, born to us on Christmas and entrusted to us to share, has the power to transform hearts and minds. And it just might save someone’s life.
I say that because 31 East Valley teenagers died by suicide during a recent 15-month period. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there’s been a 30 percent increase in suicides in the U.S. since 1999. That’s a number that should do more than just shock us — it should motivate us to spread the love and the hope of Jesus to all. Get over any awkward hesitation. Don’t be afraid to tell others how hope in Christ changed your life and how He offers hope to all. Many people you meet each day are thirsting for this message, even if they don’t yet realize it.
How are you going to share hope with the world today? Begin by focusing on the Child lying in the manger, the One who came to save us all. Then share His love with every person you encounter. That’s the joyful spirit of Christmas we’re called to take to the ends of the Earth.