Do you, or someone you know, live in despair? Have you ever been lifted up out of despair and been given hope? Or, have you presumed that because you believe in Jesus Christ that hope is not necessary?
Hope is the desire for eternal life combined with the request for grace to obtain eternal life; to behold the Beatific Vision (Father, Son and Holy Spirit); to be resurrected at the second coming of Christ, with a new glorified body. We have hope that God will give us the capacity to love Him as He deserves to be loved through acts of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and service.
As with the virtue of faith, hope also flows forth from the First Commandment in that hope is concerned with despair. Feelings of despair are blind to God’s goodness because despair causes man to fail to recognize God’s goodness. When man fails to recognize God’s goodness, it is because he is placing something of greater importance between himself and God; perhaps it is pain, suffering, or grief. These emotions can at times, overwhelm us. It is at these times that we must recall God’s goodness and know, with faith and hope, that the trial or tribulation in question will pass. When we cling to despair, we are no different than the rich young man who elected to cling to his possessions rather than cling to God (Mark 10:17-31). It is through hope that we can be lifted out of the depths of despair.
Hope is also concerned with presumption. If we were to presume to think that we can save ourselves, without divine assistance, we are gravely mistaken. Because of our sins, no one is worthy to enter Heaven without the merciful forgiveness of God. We cannot do it alone; we need to conform ourselves to Christ, by seeking God’s forgiveness, and strive to live holier lives. On the other end of the spectrum, if we were to presume that God’s mercy is all that is needed without obtaining forgiveness for our sins then we are also gravely mistaken. Life’s journey calls for a constant conversion of heart, acknowledging our sins and seeking forgiveness in this life for what we have done to offend God. By seeking forgiveness, we may conform ourselves once again to Christ and be united in Christ in this life.
Why do we hope? Why is Hope Important? We’ll discuss those questions in our next reflection on Hope.