Friday, March 4, 2011

Ephesians 4:4-6 part three

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
In this text St. Paul also speaks of hope -- specifically, the hope of our calling. In modern English, the word hope carries the idea of "maybe it will happen, maybe it won't." But the Greek word Paul uses for hope (ἐλπίς- elpis) denotes a "confident expectation" related to a promise of God. 

In an early encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI, the pope started his letter this way:

1.SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. 

Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?

Pope Benedict answers his question over the next several pages of his letter (you can read the entire encyclical here).

Although it is quite long, and the text is not formatted as well as I would wish it to be (not enough 'white space' to make reading easier on the eye), I hope you will take the time at least to peruse his answer. Doing so will put the apostle Paul's text in Ephesians in better context and help us understand our own role in the Church.

We will look a bit more into the Christian's hope in the next lesson as we use some of Pope Benedict's encyclical as backdrop.

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