Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God…
he comes to save you.
Isaiah 35: 4
December is a gloomy month, even here in Honduras. The rainy season is still holding on and the nights are often cold. Poverty continues to plague the poor and the government seems incapable of doing anything to deal with the poverty and the violence.
In other parts of the world, the economic crisis leaves people struggling to feed their families and to keep their homes.
But in the midst of all this, the Advent message is one of hope, but not a disembodied hope. It is a hope that looks for the signs of God’s grace breaking through the darkness and responds with deeds of hope, sowing the seeds of God’s love and grace in the world, through acts of love and justice – strengthening feeble hands, encouraging those who live in fear.
From the darkness of his prison in the darkness of Nazi Germany, Father Alfred Delp, SJ, wrote these words of hope, which are a challenge for all of us today:
The first thing we want to do if we want to be alive is to believe in the golden seed of God that the angels have scattered and still offer to open hearts. The second thing is to walk through these gray days oneself as an announcing messenger. So many need their courage strengthened, so many are in despair and in need of consolation, there is so much harshness that needs a gentle hand and an illuminating word, so much loneliness crying out doe a word of release, so much loss and pain in the search of inner meaning. God’s messengers know of the blessing that the Lord has cast like seed into these hours of history. Understanding this world in the light of Advent means to endure in faith, waiting for the fertility of the silent earth, the abundance of the coming harvest. Not because we put our trust in the earth but because we have heard God’s message and have met one of God’s announcing angels ourselves.
This selection from Fr. Alfred Delp, SJ, is taken from Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, first published by Plough Publishing, now published by Orbis Books.