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The Theology of Hope
I have a very simple and basic understanding of the virtue of Hope
and I thought I would throw my net over the side of the boat
and see what I bring back and, in the process, I expected it
to deepen my grasp of what Hope truly is
and why God wants us to exercise it…
In the "Dictionary of the Bible" by John McKenzie I found the following comments: "It seems no exaggeration to say the Old Testament breathes an atmosphere of hope throughout but it is true that Hebrew seems to have no word which corresponds exactly to "hope" and no precise concept of hope in the sense of "desire accompanied by expectation". The words which most frequently express hope are kawah, to expect, and batah, to trust or to have confidence. As a religious concept, hope rests entirely upon Yahweh, the "hope of Israel". One must hope in Yahweh even when He "hides his face" Is 8:17; or seems to withdraw his favor, or when hope is deferred, Is 26:8. … His fidelity to His word is guaranteed by His covenant love, which is granted to the degree in which Israel hopes in Him…
In the New Testament, the Greek words elpis and elpizein, meaning expectation or to expect, are neutral, it may refer to expected good or evil… the words appear in this sense in the New Testament but hope as a religious concept is a much more enriched development of the OT hope. The concept of hope is most fully developed in the Pauline writings especially in Roman. The paradox of "hoped against expectation" is that God can accomplish the impossible. Hope is of the unseen both to its object and its motive. Rom 8:24 and Heb 3:6. It is the hope of the glory of God which is the boast of the Christian, Rom 5:2, which must ultimately issue in the liberation of all creation from sin, Rom 8:20. Thus the Christian is saved through hope, which is joy. Paul does not think that hope is easily attained, it is the fruit of proved virtue…."
The CCC says in §1817 that Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. The virtue of hope responds to the aspirations to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the kingdom of heaven; it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitudes. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.
Hope is part perception and part imagination. How we perceive this world and the next world. So it is in us, it resides in our heart and mind and soul. And, just like a muscle, it is strengthened as it is exercised. But it is much more than that... It also exists outside of us, independant of us (lucky for us! If not, it would mean that when we are weak and lost, when we can't feel and think "hope", then it would not be there. On the contrary, it is exactly in these moments of human weakness, when we call out of despair but when we leave ourselves open that we encounter hope and then we know that it came to us, we did not make it up, and we found our hearts melting away in gratefulness); we realize then that hope is a force carried on the wings of angels, hope is a light brought to us as a gift. It is real. It is true. It is universal. Just like love. Just like faith...
Pretty explicit description of such elusive stuff.
As far as I am concerned, I already got lots of food for thought. I think I get it, I just need to practice it. A bientot!
Copyright ©September2007 Michele Szekely