At the time of writing this article for this publication, the Christian faithful are entering into the the third week of Advent and by the time of publication we will be in the fourth week of Advent.
I, for one, enjoy the Advent Season, since it is a time of joyful hope and preparation to celebrate some 2,000 years ago divinity taking on human flesh. It is also a time for Christians to remember he will come again.
Yet, the central theme and practice of Advent is to make sure we prepare our hearts and minds to the real meaning of Christmas. It is not a time to celebrate an idea or a sentimentality, but to celebrate just how much God loves us, by becoming one of us and restoring our human dignity. Thus, Christian people are to be people of perpetual hope.
In the past nine months, our country and world have been filled with anxiety and fear, yet amid watching the pestilence of Covid-19 wreak havoc and death, we have also seen glimpses of the human spirit to help one another and practice the virtue of hope in humanity and the future.
For Christians, the virtue is not just an idea or philosophical principle, it comes from the Triune God we believe incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. Hope has a heart, brain, arms and legs.
In St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, he advocates to the community of Thessalonica to “rejoice always,” “Pray without ceasing” and “Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24). Basically, Paul pleads with that Christian community not to fall back into the old habit or former way of life of division or disbelief.
Indeed, the past nine months have been a trial of the human spirit and faith. There have been plenty of voices that seem fixated on “quenching the spirit,” from denying Covid-19 is real, to others who believe only a fragment of the natural sciences can suffice to save us and bring us happiness, therefore not welcoming philosophy and theology into the dialogue of pursuing truth and happiness.
Faith and reason are not opposed to each other and each have their expertise and duty to reflect and shed light and hope to the human experience.
We should rejoice in what natural science has achieved in such a short period of time since Covid-19, but also, we know there is a place for philosophy and theology to go deeper to what it means to live before, during and after a pandemic.
Thus, as the Christian faithful prepare for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord, let us lend our voices and conviction that our belief in God becoming man lifts the spirit of humanity and that there will still be loneliness and despair that a vaccine to keep a contagion at bay will not provide an answer to, but only a way of life set on a spirit of hope can begin to address.
Let us not quench that spirit but enhance hope in our world.
The Rev. Msgr. Michael L. Farmer is a native of Prattville and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Mobile in 1995 . Prior to his appointment as pastor of St. Michael Parish, he was Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mobile.