Is there someone in your life whose faith is weak or who is tempted to despair?
Reflecting on last week’s catechesis, the pope reminded pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, at the weekly general audience, that the virtue of hope is rooted in the Lord’s resurrection and its promise of our own.
Christian hope is intensely personal yet also communitarian, he said. St. Paul tells us that support must be given especially to the poor, the weak in faith, the suffering and those tempted to despair.
Christian hope, necessarily linked to charity, needs to be “embodied” in a community of mutual support and loving concern, Pope Francis explained. In the case of Christian hope, that body is the Church and its soul is the Holy Spirit.
“No one learns to hope alone,” he said. “If we hope, it is because many brothers and sisters have taught us to hope and have kept our hope alive. And standing out among these are the little ones, the poor, the simple, and the marginalized. Yes, because those who are closed in on their own well-being cannot know hope: they only hope in the own well-being, and this is not hope …. Those who hope are the ones who daily experience trials, and the precariousness of their own limitations.”
Pope Francis said “these brothers give us the strongest, most beautiful witness, because they hold fast to their trust in the Lord, knowing that, beyond the sadness, oppression and inevitability of death, the last word will be His, and it will be a word of mercy, life and peace.”
“Whoever hopes, hopes one day to hear this word [from Jesus]: ‘Come, come to me, brother. Come, come to me, sister, for all eternity.’”
Our witness of hope in Christ’s promises is meant to expand and enrich the life of society as a whole, the pope told pilgrims.
We know that, especially in times of darkness and difficulty, hope is no easy virtue. “It is more difficult to hope that to believe, it is more difficult,” he said. “But,” he ended, “when the Holy Spirit abides in our hearts, He enables us to understand that we have no need to fear, and that the Lord is close and is taking care of us.”
Pope Francis’ greetings to English-speaking pilgrims:
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from England, Ireland and the United States of America. Upon you and your families, I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you all!
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