Homily – Hope

Advent is the time in the church calendar when we are supposed to look ahead, in expectation, in hope for redemption. Today at church, the priest, whose homilies are very lulling, gave me a bit of food for thought about hope. He described hope as a center from which two possible bastard [he didn’t say bastard, but it is the right word to use] versions may arise. Despair on one end, and presumption on the other.

It is my understanding that his definition of hope is the same as my definition of fate. That is, hope is a belief in fate. I think. Perhaps this will make more sense when I describe what he said.

Despair is a twisting of hope [fate] into a view that no good can come from our actions, that all that we do will not decrease the amount of woe in the world. Action becomes meaningless therefore. On the other end, presumption says that action is meaningless because no matter what the action, all will come to God’s good end. True hope, apparently, lies in the middle ground. We must give ourselves hope by acting morally and having nothing but trust and faith in the outcome. The danger appears to be accepting the outcome as a constant.

This still seems curious, because it while this hope [a faith in effects] seems to be like fate, at the same time we must be the agents that make hope exist.

I think what the priest might have been meaning to say is that despair and presumption are both existential copouts, false fates. But hope, or the true fate, requires engagement. If this is applied to the free-will versus predestination discussion it seems that the path is clear. As long as we choose presumption or despair as our idea of fate, nothing will reach fulfillment. Yet if we are active agents, making moral and ethical choices regardless of their effects, then fate will act through us. We are a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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