Memorial of Saint John Bosco, Priest
In his encyclical letter, Spe Salvi – in hope we were saved – Pope Benedict XVI says, “Faith is the substance of hope. But then the question arises: do we really want this—to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment.” Basically, in this encyclical letter, the Pope criticizes the modern of idea of hope that always means there is a man-made answer to cure all human dissatisfaction. The modern idea of hope not only means that our future will be better but also it “hopes” we will eliminate all suffering and attain a complete happiness in this world. Pope Benedict shows that without God, it is impossible to give men and women any hope for themselves. We hope in the Christian sense to see God “face to face.” “Faith in Christ, it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king—the symbol of hope,” says Pope Benedict.
In the scripture reading today we hear “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Do we have faith for eternal life that we are hoping for? Do we believe that there is no hope outside the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.