Bishop John Robinson wrote the following that can give us a good starting point when considering the virtue of Christian hope.
In the pursuit of health this is even more obvious. For health means wholeness. It is concerned not simply with cure but with healing of the whole person in all of his or her relationships; and this is what Eucharist is about. Healing cannot be confined to any, or indeed every, level of human understanding or expectation. That is why too it shows up those two deceivers, pessimism, and optimism, as so shallow. The Christian takes his stand not on optimism but on hope. This is based not on rosy prognosis, but as St. Paul says on suffering. This, he says, trains us to endure, and endurance brings proof that we have stood the test, and this proof is the ground of hope in the God, who can bring resurrection out and through the other side of death; though we carry death with us in our bodies (all of us) we never cease to be confident. ” [These words were written when Bishop Robinson was dying of cancer.]
Our gospel teaching for this weekend reminds us that our morality is a morality of heaven. We are not supposed to just be concerned with how we get along with each other on this earth but should also have our sights set on the world to come. The shape of this ‘new world’ that Jesus preached about, is certainly shaped by how we live and treat one another here and now. Our focus must be to link both our earthly world vision with our heavenly vision. And this is where forgiveness plays an essential part in making the connection.
It was Alexander Pope who coined the phrase: “To err is human, and to forgive is divine.” The problem is not with what the first part says that we all make mistakes…some of us more than others! This is so true that it goes without saying. It is the second part that we may fail to understand its implications. Yes, God does forgive, but it must be also part of our human condition to forgive. Forgiveness is not just something that God takes care of but must be something that we concern ourselves with. That is why Jesus mentions forgiveness when training His disciples and when He was confronted by the scribes and Pharisee’s.
In our Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1817 it addresses hope in the following way: “The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in everyone’s hearts. It keeps us from discouragement; it sustains us during times of abandonment; it opens up our hearts in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, we are preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.”
As we consider those aspects of life that need the power of hope let us support in prayer:
• our brothers and sisters who are living in areas where wildfires are consuming land, homes, and even lives. • those who have lost their jobs and are uncertain about paying their rent and having enough food for themselves and families. • for those suffering from any health issues, including Covid-19. • for families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic. • for the members of our medical & health care professions. • for our Country. • for our parishes that are experiencing any challenges.