“The same God who called Abraham and made him come down from his land without knowing where he should go is the same God who goes to the Cross in order to fulfill the promise that he made. He is the same God who in the fullness of time will make that promise a reality for all of us. What joins that first instance to this last moment is the thread of hope. Therefore, what joins my Christian life to our Christian life, from one moment to another, in order to always go forward— sinners, but forward—is hope. Yet, what gives us peace in the dark moments, in life’s darkest moments, is always hope. Hope does not disappoint: it is always there, silent, humble, but strong.”—Pope Francis
These powerful words from Pope Francis remind us that hope is one of three “theological virtues,” along with faith and love. With St. Paul, we believe that the greatest of these is love, but hope is the virtue that keeps us going when even love seems to fail. Sometimes our ordinary use of the word hope can reduce it to something like wishful thinking: I hope I pass this exam. I hope my test results are good. I hope my children will be happy and successful. We use the word for things that are out of our control. We use it for times when perhaps our efforts have fallen short. We use it for all the uncertainties in our daily lives. Pope Francis reminds us that the real source of our hope is always in God’s faithfulness and mercy. Abraham has always been the prime example of this kind of hope. He left everything to follow God’s call. We all have times in our lives when we, too, find ourselves going forth into the unknown darkness. In those times, hope in God’s promise is all we have to cling to—and cling we must, sometimes with only our fingertips. The image of hope keeping us from drowning can seem all too real at times when we are overwhelmed by life’s struggles: addiction, despair, depression, death. The theme of our Lenten reflections is hope. The hope of Lent is clearly Easter and the resurrection. But there’s a deeper hope that is with us each and every day, that knows no times or seasons. It’s the ground on which we stand, the bedrock of our foundation. That thread of hope runs strong and resilient through our lives, caught at each end by the grace of God’s merciful love.
— from the book The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis
by Diane M. Houdek