Vatican City, Feb 1, 2017 / 06:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said the Christian belief in the Resurrection of Christ and in our own resurrection at the end of time is more than just wishful thinking, but rather implies confidence in something certain. “This is the Christian hope. Christian hope is the expectation of something that has already been accomplished and that certainly will be realized for each of us,” the Pope said Feb. 1.
Speaking to pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall, he said that we need “to return to the root and foundation of our faith, so as to become aware of what God has done for us in Christ Jesus and what our death means.” Continuing his catechesis on the theme of hope, Francis’ lesson for the audience centered on the Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians.
The community of Thessalonica had only been around for a few years when Paul wrote, which was shortly after Christ’s Resurrection, he said. At this time, the community did not have difficulty believing in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, but rather, the difficulty they faced was believing that on the last day, all of the dead would be raised.
“We all have a little fear of the uncertainty of death,” the Pope said. “Each time we face our death, or that of a loved one, we feel that our faith is tested. All our doubts emerge, all our weaknesses and we ask ourselves: ‘But really there is life after death ...? I can still see and embrace the people I loved...?’” However, despite the fears and concerns of the community, St. Paul invites the people to hold firm to “the hope of salvation,” especially “in trials and in the most difficult moments of our lives.”
Christian hope is not like the everyday hopes we have, like when we hope or wish for good weather, even though we know that the weather may actually be bad, he said. Rather, Christian hope means “to be sure that I’m on the way to something that is, not that I want to be.” We should strive to live in this kind of hopeful expectation, he said, using the image of a pregnant woman who waits in expectation to see her child. Although this isn’t always easy, we are able to learn to live with this kind of expectation, he said, but added that to do this requires a “humble heart, a poor heart.”
Someone who is full of himself and of his possessions, on the other hand, cannot place his trust in anyone but himself. Pope Francis said that something that touches his heart and fills him with hope, is the line from St. Paul that says: “And we shall always be with the Lord.” “One nice thing: everything passes but, after death, we shall be forever with the Lord. It is the total certainty of hope,” he said. “Do you believe this?” he asked, inviting those present to repeat with him: “And we shall always be with the Lord.”
He noted how St. Paul writes that Jesus “died for us ‘so that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.’” These words, he said, “are always a source of great consolation and peace.”