After agreeing about the weather after my last Mass, she asked me how important hope is for me. As a priest, I’m expected to have a ready-made statement ready to calm her and move on thinking to myself how smart I am. (Luckily, I missed those classes.) Putting it back on the person works, sometimes. “What does hope mean to you?” This gives me a chance to collect my thoughts when asked a ten-second question awaiting a profound ten-second response when I only carry a title that she doesn’t have.
And, this is all happening in a parking lot with my car keys in my hand. “Hope is for a fruitful tomorrow,” or something like that I would have said. No name exchanged. No further times scheduled for delving into this powerful word. She leaves for her car and I, for mine. The faith-filled exploration exchange between two people, forget the titles.
If we ever meet again, I would share that hope for me is number one in St. Paul’s list. He claims love is the best of his, “faith, hope and love.” I beg to differ with the last apostle. I believe that the other two springs from a firmness of hope. Faith is the trust and love is the response or the action. But, it is all anchored and springs from the virtue of hope.
Without hope the others are tested, questioned, argued and bantered about when the seeds of hope are not deeply rooted.
In other words, the other two can’t proudly show and express themselves without the beauty and power of hope.
Happily, I did not give the parking lot lady a churchy “priestly” pat answer. However, over coffee and some Danish we may have had both personal and heart-striving stories about the virtue of hope that is shown in those other two. By the way, what are those other two?