“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love”. (1 Cor 13;13). These three Virtues that Paul names in his first letter to the Corinthians, have always fascinated me. They are very closely linked, fundamentals of our Christian faith. So let’s look at each one of them in more detail.
What is faith? It is hard to define what faith is. It means something different to all of us. However, it can ultimately be described as trust. Trust, in that God is always with us and that he loves us. Faith and trust are in fact very closely linked together. One cannot exist without the other. We cannot believe and not trust just like we cannot trust and not believe. If you trust someone you believe them or in them. At the profession of faith in the Creed, we express our confidence in God, as we say: “I believe in one God, (...) maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”. I believe means, I trust in one God. I trust that he made everything seen and unseen. I trust that he loves me and is always with me. I trust that he is leading me the right way. Sometimes, we fail to see why things happen the way they do. Especially at those times, we need to trust, we need to have faith that God knows what is good for us. Saint Thomas Aquinas put it well in his famous hymn the Tantum Ergo: “Faith for all defects supplying, where the feeble senses fail”. Our faith must be stronger than any feelings and our trust in the Lord must be the greatest trust we have.
Just like Faith and Trust are inseparable, so hope feeds off faith. Similarly, without faith, there would be no hope. In fact, hope is the future of faith and promise of love. Hope can be described as a faithful wait. Yes, at times it may be hard and difficult to understand God’s reasoning but we need to wait and believe that he knows what is right for us. It is especially when our minds and our hearts are conflicting that we need hope. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness” For us Christians that light is Christ. We place a lot of emphasis on Jesus the light. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”(John, 8:12) This is why faith and hope are so connected. Jesus himself said if you believe in me and if you trust me - I will be your light. If we allow Jesus, who is present in his Word and in the sacraments to enter into our hearts and our lives, his word and his presence will become for us “a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (Psalm, 119:105). Then we will be able to see where he is leading us and why he is leading us the way he is.
“But the greatest of these is love” One cannot argue with St. Paul here. What would faith and hope be without love? Empty, meaningless words? Perhaps, not even that. Who would we be without love? Love is the glue that holds everything together, without which everything falls apart. Love should govern everything we do. Jesus set for us the perfect example of unconditional love. This is why he left us the most important commandment “love one another as I have loved you” (John, 15:12). Therefore, we should do everything with love, love for Christ and one another. If, we do things without love, no matter how great, they will always just be empty gestures. If we speak without love, it is meaningless words that we speak. Similarly, forgiveness without love is of no significance. It will not bring us the relief and the true peace we wanted, only love can do that. “Let love be rooted in you, and from the root nothing but good can grow” (St. Augustine). Consequently, we should follow Christ in his selfless love for others. Because, if faith makes all things possible and if hope makes all things work, then love must surely make all this beautiful.”For love is the beauty of the soul” (St. Augustine). And so let us love one another, let us be good to others, be merciful and let us always see Christ in others. If we do that then we will discover that love really is faith and hope, because, if we love someone we trust them and we place all our hope in them.
“Set your hearts on the higher gifts, on the things that come from your maker in heaven. These three gifts are all that remain: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is love”.
When everything else fails, let us remember, these gifts from God of faith, hope and love. So have faith, that is, trust in him, hope that he is leading you and lighting on your path, and love him and others unconditionally, just like he loved you. I conclude with the words of Pope Francis who said. “Let the Church always be a place of Mercy and hope. Where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven”. Together let us strive, so to build a house where faith, hope, and love can dwell.