Pope at Audience: The world needs Christian hope

Pope Francis reflects on the theological virtue of hope as he continues his cycle of catecheses on the vices and the virtues.

By Christopher Wells

Hope “is the answer offered to the heart” when it ponders the question of our final destiny, Pope Francis said at the General Audience on Wednesday.

Focusing on the second of the three theological virtues, the Holy Father acknowledged that “a negative answer” to questions about the meaning of life will lead to sadness: “If there is no meaning to the journey of life, if at the beginning and the end, there is nothing, then we ask ourselves why we should walk” and we end in desperation.

Without hope many people give up on life and “all the other virtues risk crumbling and ending up in ashes,” the Pope said, before quoting Benedict XVI: “Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live in the present as well.”

A theological virtue

Christians realize that hope does not come from their own merit, Pope Francis said.  “If they believe in the future, it is because Christ died and rose again and gave us His Spirit.” He explained that hope is a “theological” virtue precisely because “it does not emanate from us… but is a gift that comes directly from God.”

Quoting a famous passage from St Paul – “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” – the Pope contrasted faith and disbelief: “if you believe in the Resurrection of Christ, then you know with certainty that no defeat and no death is forever. But if you do not believe in the Resurrection of Christ, then everything becomes hollow, even the preaching of the Apostles.”

Pope Francis went on to warn against sins against hope, including “bad nostalgia” for the happiness of the past and despair for our sins, when we forget that “God is merciful and greater than our hearts.”

A world in need of hope

“The world today is in great need of this Christian virtue,” the Pope proclaimed, adding that it also needs patience, “a virtue that walks in close contact with hope.” Those who are patient, he said, “are weavers of goodness,” always stubbornly desiring peace.

“Even when around us many have succumbed to disillusionment,” Pope Francis said, “those who are inspired by hope and are patient are able to get through the darkest of nights.”

Finally, the Holy Father said that “hope is the virtue of the young at heart,” recalling the New Testament example of Simeon and Anna, who encountered the newborn Messiah in the Temple. Pope Francis concluded that it would be a great grace if, at the end of our lives, we could proclaim with Simeon, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace… for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of every people.”

Pope Francis concluded by calling on the faithful to “go forward and ask for the grace to have hope, hope with patience.” And he invited them to “Always look to the final encounter; always see that the Lord is always near us, that death will never, never be victorious.”

Read the full text of Pope Francis' remarks at the General Audience on the Holy See website

Thank you for reading our article. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to our daily newsletter. Just click here

08 May 2024, 08:43

Latest Audiences

Read all >