"Hope has to rest on a fact that is present...It is Christ, Christ our hope - that is, present...This is the fact that allows us to face everything" (Msgr. Luigi Giussani).
Advent is a season of hope.
Sometimes I have a difficult time with the concept of hope, just like I have a difficult time with the idea of having dreams (as in aspirations...not visions of sugar-plums in the middle of the night...or of turkish delight).
I've always been told to dream big, so I did. But big dreams based on zero reality, typically don't go very far. At least they haven't in my life. But aspirations that I've built on facts have, probably because they are reasonable. I think I'm starting to look at hope this way as well.
Every Advent, there is a focus on the second coming of Christ, which serves as a gentle reminder that we're going to die some day. The world is finite. We are finite. And so on. I used to hope big any time I thought about these "end times." "Gosh, I hope that I attain salvation." Throwing words out there as if it would end up being a thing of chance. But that seems crazy now - now.
Emphasis on the word "now."
The problem with my original stance (hoping big), was that it was not based on a fact that is present now. This is not unlike a big dream that is based on unreasonable, abstract aspirations. The original stance forgot the first coming, which is Emmanuel - God with us. God is with us now. The fact of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection (which makes the fact present now), ought to give me great hope for my life right now and for my salvation. It isn't a blind hope or some far-fetched dream.
The Psalmist drills this point home as he says, "But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" (Ps. 130:4-5).
Because of the ways the Lord has made himself present to us, through our encounters with Him in the Eucharist, in each other, in the Church, through the forgiveness we have experienced in Confession, we have been given great reason to hope.