Editor’s note: Sr. Margaret Carney OSF,  friend and board member of FMS, brings in day 3 of Advent with a reflection on hope and how a title of a play has given her a new understanding of a special courage needed to have hope. 

Bigger than Hope

Several years ago my niece, Megan Carney, directed community theater musical based on stories of real people living in an area of Chicago that was not part of the Million Dollar Mile. The  production was created as a collaboration with a local community center. Its aim was to uncover the real drama in the lives of women and men who would never be the subject of a Broadway or NetFlix show. 

One of the characters who had a prominent role was an elderly man who served as an entertainer for troops during World War II. He and his band had a popular run in the camps of American soldiers. His neighbors knew that it was the comedian, Bob Hope, who was beloved for his constant generous offering of shows all over the globe where battles were being fought. Still, the Chicago fellow goes on and on about the fame of his band, exclaiming, “We were bigger than Hope!” This line became the title of the play. 

As the stories unfolded it became clear that being “bigger than Hope” when your work life has ended, or your children have abandoned you, or your rent has just gone past your Social Security payments—is a special form of courage. Today we find many reasons for losing hope. All too many of our family and friends have lost hope that our church can recover from its current crisis of integrity and authority. 

Is our call this Advent to have the  Big Hope–that audacious conviction that Jesus is present today, yesterday, the same forever? He embodies the reason for our Hope. And his coming in time—and his coming in the future— can lead us to a proud defiance of despair. Let’s pray today for the bigger hope that will allow us to celebrate—really celebrate—this Christmas.