"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love..."
Love, it is said, is the greatest virtue. Faith may be the highest spiritual virtue. But hope must certainly be the most durable virtue. Hope is the enduring virtue that teaches us to persist, and enables us to persevere. It may be the poster child for 2020.
If there is one thing we all may agree upon, it is that the current state of the world-- traumatized by this invisible virus-- has lasted far longer than we expected.
This Advent, I think particularly of Mary and Joseph traveling and the unfolding of the birth of all that is good in humanity and divinity, in the form of the newborn baby named Jesus.
I think of them still on the road. They must have been weary and discouraged, the journey longer than they imagined. Was Mary in pain? Was Joseph frustrated not to be able to provide a safe harbor for the most important mission he had been given? When Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel, could she have imagined riding a donkey in the dark night with Joseph, unable to find a place to stay?
They couldn't know of the manifestation of a sheltering place, of angels greeting them with songs of praise, of shepherds being called to find them, of a star getting brighter to guide them, and of the birth of a child who would bring goodness and light to all humanity.
One of my professors in the seminary explained to us that to be "God's Chosen" people doesn't mean being better than others, but to be "chosen" to live by different values, by God's ways.
I recently heard someone say, "I think we may be God's Chosen People... who forget." We can forget on the dark winding roads. We can forget months into this pandemic to trust and be exemplars of hope. The Scriptures are given to us because we forget.
The Holy Family was living love and trusting in faith, but it was the ability to hope that sustained them in the dark night on the journey. They were the first Christians, because they were people of hope.
Hope is the virtue that brings to mind a brightening star, angels on their way, the impending birth of goodness and light. Even before his birth, Jesus was hidden in Mary's womb. He already was Emmanuel-- God with us. Hope is the virtue that remembers even in the darkest moment of wandering, that God, though maybe hidden, is already with us.