“May God our Father, enlighten the eyes of our hearts, so that we may see the great hope to which we are called in Christ Jesus”(Ephesians 1:18).
Hope is the first characteristic in constructing this new creation born in Christ through baptism, how could it be otherwise?
From the very beginning of human existence, the battle for the human heart was at stake:
“The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5).
However, with the dawning of Christianity, the battle, and, more importantly, the hope for redemption in Christ was ever more apparent.
True hope comes first in the recognition of a change of lifestyle through baptism, which initiates our life in Christ. As St. Paul calls us to observe:
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
The hope of redeeming the whole of the human person—body, mind, and spirit—is also clear here in St. Paul writing to the Philippians:
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).
Hope also comes in celebrating the fruits of the new man inspired by the example of others:
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
The powerful witness of holy men and women who have gone before us shows us the inexhaustible possibilities that come from openness to the life of grace. These men and women know their weakness, they know that they are truly vessels of clay, and any good that comes, come from the very power of God:
“We are only vessels of clay that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such overwhelming power comes from God and not from us” (2 Cor 4:7).
When we come in contact with their holy lives, our fellow Christians give us hope, the hope to stay the course, that this walk with Christ is truly worthwhile!
[Fr Martin Connor is a priest of the Legionaries of Christ in Atlanta, Georgia. Since his ordination in 2001, he has dedicated his priesthood to the spiritual formation of Catholic men. The reflections on the Kingdom that we will be sharing this week are from a book he plans to publish, 10 Reflections on the Kingdom, which will be available as an ebook in early 2014, pending publication.]