Spe Salvi 31: Hopes, Greater and Lesser

Let’s wrap up The true shape of Christian hope, shall we? According to Pope Benedict XVI there’s nothing wrong with pinning our hopes on matters that the world considers important. I suppose education, career, meeting good friends, and the like. Perhaps the small pleasures like a good meal, entertainment, or even the internet. Keep things in perspective, though; the best of these hopes can only ever hope to be number two in the mind and heart of a Christian:

31. Let us say once again: we need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety.

Jesus, to name the person. Not only does he inspire hope, but he shifts the hope from an afterlife or a future emergence of his reign. Jesus brings the Kingdom into the present.

His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us. His love alone gives us the possibility of soberly persevering day by day, without ceasing to be spurred on by hope, in a world which by its very nature is imperfect. His love is at the same time our guarantee of the existence of what we only vaguely sense and which nevertheless, in our deepest self, we await: a life that is “truly” life. Let us now, in the final section, develop this idea in more detail as we focus our attention on some of the “settings” in which we can learn in practice about hope and its exercise.

Final section? Yes. Those settings will include “Prayer as a school of hope” (32-34), “Action and suffering as settings for learning hope” (35-40) and “Judgement as a setting for learning and practicing hope.” (41-48)

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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