Spe Salvi: The Substance of Life

In hope we were saved! (Rom 8:24) Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical letter takes us to the very heart of the Christian life: We have hope in a God Who loves us and wants nothing more than our eternal happiness with Him in heaven. Our hope, says the Pope, ultimately lies in God's love, not in human progress or economic prosperity, but in the God Who answers all our longings and questions. The God Who walks with us at every moment of our lives, even at and through death; the great human mystery that stirs us all to the core.

I would like to highlight one theme that is particularly timely for us to meditate upon, especially with the season of Lent at hand: "What does the hope or substance of our life consist in?"

In the tenth chapter to the Hebrews, St. Paul writes to the early Christian community saying: "You had compassion on the prisoners, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one." Although the earthly substance (property and material possessions) had been taken from them, they stood firm and even joyfully accepted this plundering because they had a substance (faith in Jesus Christ) that was not only a better basis and foundation for their life, but one that could never be taken away. It is this basis of faith in Christ that relativizes and puts into perspective the material substance of our lives. It is only in this faith - God first - that we can be truly free.

It is very easy in our culture to mix up the order of material substance and our heavenly substance (faith in Christ). Our society tells us that the "good life" consists in a well paying job and comfortable lifestyle, while our faith tells us that we must live simple lives, take up our cross, and follow Jesus all the way up to Calvary. We know that trusting in the comforts of this life will never satisfy our longings and that although faith is not easy, it ends at the empty tomb of Easter glory; heaven itself and true fulfillment and peace.

Most of us struggle to keep the eyes of our heart on God.  Let's face it, to trust in God with all our heart and all our mind and all our strength is difficult.  But with God's grace we understand Jesus' words: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." This Lent is a perfect time to kneel at the throne of grace and beg the good God for the strength to love Him and make Him first in our lives. Then, Easter will bring us the glorious freedom of the children of God.

"You have made us for yourselves O Lord and our hearts are restless until they rest in You." St. Augustine, Pray for us.

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    # by Anonymous - May 11, 2008 at 8:01 PM

    Many people have read and studied Spe Salvi. Some of these people from different religions and cultures. This clearly defines the meaning of Catholic, which is "Open to all."