Faith, Hope, Love
There is still one thing for us to think about at the end. Through talking about love, we came upon faith. We saw that, properly understood, faith is present within love and that only faith can bring love to its proper end, because our own loving would remain just as inadequate as an open hand stretched out into emptiness. If we think a little further, we also come upon the mystery of hope. For our believing and our loving are still on their way, so long as we remain in this world, and again and again they are in danger of flickering out. It is truly Advent. No one can say of himself, “I am completely saved.” In the era of this world, there is no redemption as a past action, already completed; nor does it exist as a complete and final present reality; redemption exists only in the mode of hope. The light of God does not shine in this world except in the lamps of hope that his loving-kindness has set up on our way. How often that distresses us: we would like more; we would like the whole thing, round, unassailably present. Yet basically we have to say: Could there be any more human way of redeeming us than that which declares us to be beings in the course of development, on our way, that tells us we may hope? Could there be a better light for us, as nomadic beings, than the one that sets us free to go forward without fear, because we know that the light of eternal love stands at the end of the road?
Tomorrow, Wednesday, an Advent Ember Day, we shall encounter this very mystery of hope in the liturgy of the Holy Mass. The Church sets it before us on this particular day in the shape of the Mother of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary. For these weeks of Advent she stands before us as the woman who is carrying the Hope of the world just under her heart and thus, going before us on our way as a symbol of hope. She stands there as the woman in whom what is humanly impossible has become possible, through God’s saving mercy. And thus she becomes a symbol for us all. For if it is up to us, if it depends on the feeble flame of our goodwill and the paltry sum of our actions, we cannot achieve salvation. However much we are capable of, it is not enough for that. It remains impossible. Yet God, in his mercy, has made the impossible possible. We need only say, in all humility, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord” (cf. Lk 2:37f; Mk 10:27). Amen.