Last week we reflected on the theological virtue of faith. Today, I would like to reflect on the theological virtue of hope, a virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness, it is by putting our trust in Christ. Hope is conceivably the most challenging of the three theological virtues to understand. It can be depicted as an unwavering trust and assurance that the promises of God will be fulfilled. This trust is centered on Christ who through his Death and Resurrection, has brought us the hope of salvation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the true nature and meaning of the theological virtue of hope. It states that, “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. ‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’ ‘The Holy Spirit … he poured upon us richly through Jesus Christ Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.’” (CCC, # 1817).
Living in the hope of resurrection is quite instrumental in the healing process during the bereavement. Without the hope of resurrection there is no belief in life after death. There is no immortality. It is the hope of resurrection that gives meaning to the afterlife. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, death is defeated, and eternal life is made sure. By raising Jesus from the death, God promises all the faithful the same resurrection. In death life is distorted, but in resurrection victory is triumphed. The question St. Paul asks,” O’ death where is your victory? O’ death where is your sting? (I Cor 15: 55). As Christians, sometimes we might ask ourselves same questions especially, when someone close to us, when someone whom we loved so much, when someone who meant so much to us dies, we are deeply hurt, and our heart is troubled, and we begin to question everything. What is life? Why is death? Where is God?
More than all the avenues, the Church provides wonderful opportunities for healing. This does not mean that all the bereaved families run to Church for comfort and encouragement. On the contrary, most grievers shy away from the Church, feeling at the time that God has betrayed or forsaken them. Where there is hope, there is no despair; where there is despair or hopelessness, there is no hope, but hope in the human life cannot be invaded by despair. Despair can be understood as a momentarily psychological feeling that even affects the spiritual dimension of Christian life. Hope has the last word over despair. With hope, Christians participate to the vision of God, who is eternal life. Stories, such as the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, for example, make them feel like God has abandoned them, because if He was able to raise Lazarus why can’t He also raise their own. Some of us can think like this. Christ is the only hope of the human person, and he endured the cross, suffered, died, and was raised. This is our Christian hope. Without hope, our Christian life would become meaningless. What we hope for is everlasting life. Our deceased brothers and sisters have joined whom they have served in their whole life. Now what we cannot see with our corporeal eye, our brothers and sisters are seeing it. This is what Saint John teaches us, “Beloved we are God’s children now, what we shall be has not yet been revealed. we do not know that when it is revealed to us, we shall see him as he is. everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure as he is pure.” (1 Jn 3:2-3). Finally, I invite you to pray through the intercession of Saint John Paul II never to give up on Hope as he encourages us: “I plead with you, never ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not Afraid” St. John Paul II pray for us.