Sunday, February 03, 2008

Christian Hope - There is nothing like it

h/t Magnificat and Doctors of the Catholic Church

Hope and the Beatitudes

The Christian is entrusted with something valuable: Christian hope. This hope is to be clearly distinguished from purely human hope, since it cannot be described in terms of uncertainty or calculations of probability, but like faith participates in the unconditionally and universality of love (“love believes all things and hopes all things” [1 Cor 13:7] and therefore leaps over its own shadow (“hoping against all hope’ [Rom 4: 18].

As a spiritual and not merely instinctive act of the human being, it remains a paradox that reason cannot resolve and becomes understandable only when we take it seriously as a modality of love, at least as the beginnings of a love modeled on God (a “supernatural” love). Doing so, we come to see it as the only attitude that can be justified and therefore the only attitude that can be permitted for the one living by the sign of the Son of Man, which well “appear in the clouds” (Mt 24: 30; rev 1:7) and will be God‘s final “Word” to the world, after heaven and earth have passed away (Mt 24: 35)…

And thus whoever simply refuse to shut his eyes to the abyss of hatred, despair, and depravity that can be seen in the life of men on earth, and thus who refuses to close himself off from reality, will find it difficult to contrive his own escape from this damnation through a purely individualistic conception of salvation, and to abandon everyone else to the grinding wheels of hell. Just as God so loved the world that he completely handed over his son for its sake, so too the one whom God has loved will want to save himself only in conjunction with those who have been created with him, and he will not reject the share of penitential suffering that has been given him for the sake of the whole. He will do in Christ hope, the hope for the salvation of all men, which is permitted to Christians alone.

Father Hans Urs von Balthazar (+ 1988) was an eminent Swiss Catholic theologian who wrote prodigiously.

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