If ever there is a subject that wakens our hearts to hope, it would seem to me that it is the subject of life after death. The blessed passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the rock foundation of our Christian faith. To quote the Nicene Creed, we look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Something outside the seemingly unbreakable laws of nature–such as walking on the waves of the sea or bringing the dead back to life or blinding our physical senses with the other-worldly light of the Transfiguration–these “impossible” experiences make us wonder at what might be possible after all. Something we have no control over, much as we might long to, as we struggle against the limits of life, urges us to aspire to more than we can now experience.
There is a part of each of us that craves to be more than we actually are. We are made for more; we hope that there is more than this. As people who have encountered Christ in our lives, we believe his promise that there is more to life. For some two-thousand years we have been believing what others who do not share our faith are still searching for. The mission of the Church is to tell all these people the good news, the evangelii gaudium, the joy of the Gospel.
There are many ways of sharing and spreading this Good News but the fundamental way is by living it, expressing by our lives what we believe, drawing upon a spiritual power–but a power that is not mine–from within ourselves to practice our faith. Actions speak louder than words. Like St. Paul, we all know that we do not have this power out of ourselves. Yet people do live like this; it can be done. We attribute this power, this ability to the divine abiding within us. Jesus promised it. Paul testified to it. We ourselves experience it–many times, we experience it!
And yet we doubt, we struggle to believe, in spite of our past experiences. We wonder, what about this time? Will it happen again? Or will I fail? Because I cannot control it, I am anxious and feel doubt. Being dependent on an Other, I’m forced to trust. Over and over, I must trust anew. I may believe what happened before but now I have to trust–even learn to trust–all over again.
The virtue of hope is a power, a power from God. The word “virtue”, from the Latin, virtus, means “power”. The word in New Testament Greek is dunamis, as in our words, “dynamite”, “dynamic” or “dynamism”–a force or a power. Hope is a force, a dynamic that moves us. Jesus himself promised us, When you appear before governors and kings do not worry about what you will say. He tells us to trust and we will have his power acting in us. Nevertheless, we doubt.
The point is, however, that our doubts don’t stop us. With that power within us we hope and we act on that hope.
If anything appears to be lacking in the world around is today, it is hope. Not that people dis-believe; they just lack hope. But the power of hope is actually there within them. If I open myself up to the spiritual part of my life, to build it up, I’ll open up to hope. I will receive hope. Hope is there, waiting to be let in or to be allowed to live. Hope becomes the vital force within me to engage me to act. Hope fills me; and I take hold of it.
If I am faithful to hope and if I act in hope, I affect someone else who is struggling with a lack of hope. And we are all struggling. That other person’s hope helps me; my hope supports him. Hope is God’s gift and empowers us. We are saved by hope.
from a Chpater Talk by Abbot Robert