The basis of our hope

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WHEN Christ told his disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to them (cfr. Jn 15,16-16,4) after he shall have died, resurrected and ascended into heaven, he was reassuring them—and us—that despite whatever we experience in this world, we can have hope to reach our final destination, which is to be with God in heaven, fully transformed into his image and likeness as God wants us to be.

We should just learn how to strengthen our hope always, since that is a crucial virtue to have. Given our condition of pilgrim here on earth, exposed to all sorts of challenges, trials, difficulties and the like, we should make sure that we are always on the move toward our ultimate, spiritual and supernatural goal. That’s what hope does for us.

We should not get distracted or entangled by our earthly affairs, whether good or bad, for as the Letter to the Hebrews would put it: “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” (13,14) Thus, we have to strengthen our hope always. Our earthly affairs should only be a means and occasion to foster our hope to get us to our ultimate destination.

Hope is first of all not just a virtue that we produce, cultivate or keep to ourselves. It is first of all a gift of God, given to us in abundance. It is the gift of Christ himself who, by the Holy Spirit, is made present in us through his words, his sacraments, his Church. All we have to do is to correspond to this wonderful reality as faithfully and vigorously as possible.

That is why we need to be most mindful of the truths of our faith, giving time to meditate on them and to make them sink in our very consciousness. We have to be wary of our tendency to be carried away by our earthly concerns, no matter how legitimate they are. For again, as the gospel would say, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mk 8,36)

It’s important that just like in that management style called MBO (Management by Objective), we have to have a clear vision of our ultimate goal and make it the strongest desire of our life, so that we don’t get entangled with the ups and downs and the drama of life.

Christ has warned his disciples—and us—that because of him, we will encounter severe trials that would go to the extent of testing our very faith. We have to be ready for this eventuality by always developing a sharp sense of discernment of what the Holy Spirit would be prompting us to think, say, do and react.

We also need to be constantly reminded of what Christ himself assured us. “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16,33) We need to be ready when some fears, and worse, anxieties and depression, would come to us.

This, of course, will require some significant effort, because especially nowadays people are getting too hooked in their earthly, temporal affairs. Some of them who are considered more in the successful side, get too immersed in them that they forget their spiritual and supernatural goal. Others, who are more in the losing side, eventually fall into discouragement and despair. They end up finding no meaning in life.

We should do everything to sharpen our sense and virtue of hope!