Monsignor Francis V. Cilia
In the First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul writes that in the end “these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
We know that love is of God and that God is love; Jesus taught His followers to be a community of love, modeled after the self-sacrificing gift of His life. Some have said that the Christian life can be summed up as “Love and do what you want.”
Love is the core of Christian living, but what humanity desperately needs during this time of pandemic is hope, without denying the necessity of faith and love.
There is a problem with hope, in the ways that most people live it. For us, to be a person of hope is to believe that things will turn out well, that they will end right, and that that end will be according to our hopes, our dreams and our prayers. It is easy for us to fall into a false hope, which attributes to God the same desires that we have for ourselves, our loved ones, our world, and even our Church. I say that this is a false kind of hope, because it is not really founded upon our belief in God and divine Providence, but on what we think we know is best for all concerned.
I read an article recently, entitled “Who Made Us God?”. The basic premise of the short piece was when we begin to believe that we have all the answers, then we have walked down a path that is not open to God’s grace, but only to ourselves.
During this time of pandemic, we desperately need to rekindle our faith, our belief that God who has known each of us from the first moment of our lives in our mothers’ womb will never leave us alone, but eventually will lead each of us to unending life. These days, weeks and months, call us to remember that even in time of isolation, we are never really so distant from one another, that we are walking the path that has been set before us with each other, with our families and friends, our communities of faith and, indeed, with the entire human race.
As such, it is our personal responsibility to be there for one another, in word, action and prayer. And it is incumbent upon us to rekindle the gift of real hope in our lives. Czech poet and president, Václav Havel, wrote that “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” True Christian hope can never be “doom and gloom,” even in the darkest hours – and none of us knows how dark the darkness may yet become. Christian hope guides us to believe that whatever happens, however things turn out, Good Friday will always be followed by Easter morning.
Like Jesus, in the garden the night before He died, we can and should pray that this suffering might pass, that all might be restored to health, that the world may soon begin to heal, families’ finances be made whole again. And we should do our very best to stay healthy. But, in the end, no matter what does happen, as a people of hope, we trust that God has always been, is and will ever be with us. Let us comfort one another with this message.