Spe Salvi 27: Our Great, True Hope

In exploring the true shape of Christian hope it doesn’t surprise me that Pope Benedict looks to the fourth Gospel, assembled at a time when the last of the apostles were passing away, and Christians looked to faith perhaps instead of the promise some of them interpreted as an immanent return of Christ.

Otherwise, even believers are left with the small hopes of day-to-day living. Just like the non-believers:

27. In this sense it is true that anyone who does not know God, even though (they) may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Ephesians 2:12). (Our) great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and who continues to love us “to the end,” until all “is accomplished” (cf. John 13:1 and 19:30).

Again, the other theological virtues are drawn into our discussion. God’s love, as often recounted by the biblical John, plus faith in Jesus and his promises for those whom he loves–meaning each of us.

Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. He begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. John 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

A word on relationship:

Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.

So the virtues, especially hope, draw us out of an individualism, a notion that Jesus lives for me, that God has acted on my behalf. It is really the Christian individual who has been drawn into the life of God.

This document is Copyright © 2007 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana. You can find the full document online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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