Faith, Hope and Love (Ordinary 30)


Today’s readings distinguish a Christian life from what other people do. We
see this in what we are praying for in this mass: Increase our faith, hope and charity,and make us love what you command, so that we may merit what you promise.

What is faith? Faith is not superstition, which has nothing to do with God. All God reveals to us are truths. And so whatever he reveals is reasonable. So Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and all that he has revealed to us and that the Church proposes for our belief because God is Truth itself. (CCCC386)

Faith is something solid because God is solid: anything is only solid relative to God and his action.  This is why we love his commandments which are revealed in faith, the easy  ones, and the challenging ones. That there are commandments which are challenging  is not a problem with the commandments. Love is simple and easy: and that is all the commandments ask of us. Not is the problem that they come externally – because they don’t come externally. Since every human being is made by love for love, these very commandments are written on every human heart. So to live the commandments is to in fact fulfil the fundamental desires of my heart, to live like God – because that is all the commandments do, reflect who God himself is. But the fact that we struggle to live the commandments, that we struggle in all these aspects of love, shows that the problem is with us. This is what we are talking about when we speak of original sin. We are all sinners – otherwise we would not be here in this church right now to be saved by God. But the fact that we are here in this Church right now also shows us what is good about this: that God wants to save us, and is going to save us – if we say yes to him, to even those things we find hard.

And this is hope. Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire and await from God eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in God’s promises. (CCCC387) We can trust in God’s promises, because it is God who makes them. With God there is no risk: risks are only found in making up my own path – because when I put my trust and hope in anything else, it will certainly fail – because it’s not unfailable – it’s not eternal God.

And finally there is charity. Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. (CCCC388)  It is the most important of the virtues: as St Paul says in 1 Corinthians, without charity I am nothing. And without charity, I gain nothing. And what’s really important here is not only that God asks us to love others: we know that. What is really interesting is that God also, and first of all, aches us to love him. Do you love God? Do you love everything he does? Do you love his commandments? Do you love him with with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind? This is the question Jesus asks today? What is our answer? More importantly, what is our decision? Because if our answer, as the psalmist shows is yes, with all our heart, then we also receive that security the psalmist is living, with all his heart: I love you, Lord, my strength, my rock, my fortress, my saviour. My God is the rock where I take refuge; my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.