“Jesus, please be the beginning and end of our every day, every project, every prayer, every peril, every love, all that we do and all that we are.”
It’s the end of the church liturgical year. How did you do on the final exam?
"Some there are who have become faithful servants, serving Me with fidelity and with love.”
In today’s Second Reading from Hebrews, we read, “He has appeared to take away sin by his sacrifice. Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.”
This is known as the kerygma. It gives us hope. So let’s talk about hope.
We who have always lived with the Christian concept of God have grown accustomed to it. We have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that comes from a real encounter with this God.”
So let’s look at the encyclical Spe Salvi. Spe Salvi, is a reference to the Latin phrase from Romans 8:24, Spe salvi facti sumus, translated as, “For we are saved by hope.” It is the second encyclical letter by Pope Benedict XVI promulgated on November 30, 2007. It is about the theological virtue of hope.
Where does this hope originate? One scriptural commentator writes that, Salvation is offered to us. The tomb is empty. Christ reestablished the relationship. God has restored the conditions which existed before. He has given us assurance that our sins have been forgiven, and with that, the negative consequences that come from sin. Those sins are forgiven by Jesus Christ.
But how do you know that? Through the priest whom He has appointed to act in His Name to forgive sins. Christ is the first eternal High Priest. Priests today share in that same eternal priesthood. You know that your sins are forgiven because you see them. You actually hear the words of absolution.
That’s the historical/theological foundation of hope. What is the significance of that to us now? Pope Benedict says, “by virtue of the sense that we have been given hope, this trustworthy hope, we can face the present. The present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted.
But then the Holy Father emeritus adds an additional condition. “Hope needs to lead towards a goal. In addition, we have to be sure that this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.”
The one who has hope lives differently. The one who lives in hope has been granted the gift of a new life. And so, Christians have a future. It is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known; it makes things happen. It is life-changing.
People are seeking. They are looking for hope and authenticity, the extraordinary and community with people who are looking to live an intentional life and connections with THE source of all that is good.
In 1 Corinthians 12:31, St. Paul refers to this as a “still more excellent way.” You have to choose. Either you choose to live a life of priest prophet and king which is life giving and hope filled or you choose a life of inaction and numbness and addictive behavior.
Family and friends and colleagues are looking to connect with people who model this. If we are to model this, we have to live it. To live it, as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm this morning. We need to connect to a God who, sustains by keeping His faith forever, nourishes, raises up those who were bowed down and sets captives free.
Audio version of the homily is here: