(Vatican Radio) The Season of Advent begins once again: a season of hope and expectation, as we look forward to Christmas.
In the world we see many problems that challenge us both as human beings and as believers. It is enough to take a quick look around us.
We see unemployment and economic problems creating an atmosphere of uncertainty about the future and lack of confidence in new projects. We see social problems and health issues, such as violence against women or the AIDS crisis, each recalled in recent global efforts to alleviate such problems. Conflicts and violence afflict Syria, Mali, Nigeria, the east of Congo, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq and other people and nations. Social and political tensions, like those in Egypt, abound.
It is not always easy to recognise the light of hope in the world; but signs of that light are not lacking. There are ongoing talks in Cuba between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas. And we might yet hope that the vote on Palestine in the United Nations prove to be a stimulus for the resumption of the peace process.
Nonetheless, we live in the midst of questions, concerns, and fragile hopes. The season of Advent should help us to ask for and to find reasons for a great Hope, a Hope that does not deceive, but instead supports even human hopes in this time of expectation. In the end, all of the efforts of science, of diplomacy, and of politics in the search for social peace, both within and between nations, can find a reasonable and solid foundation only on the basis of a personal conversion by which we become peacemakers – as the Lord says. And so it is to this that we should dedicate our Advent of prayer and of commitment.