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The Feast That Gives Us Hope

  • POPE BENEDICT XVI

Our gaze turns to the many souls who have preceded us marked with the sign of faith.


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They are our brothers and sisters, members of the one big family of God that embraces all time and space. The guide and centre of this family is our brother, Jesus Christ. In this family, some names stand out and are well-known to all. They are the great saints, witnesses to the power of grace and to the faith that conquers all. They are, however, only the tip of the iceberg.

Most of them are unknown. To us they are nameless, unknown, just as we, too, will be one day—but not to God. This is precisely what makes them saints: the fact that God knows them and that these magnificent words apply to a high degree to them: I have branded you on the palms of my hands (Is 49:16)—i.e., you belong to me.

The solemnity of All Saints is, in the deepest sense, a celebration of our hope. Christians are people who affirm the reality of God and count on it. This is what it means to believe.

Likewise, it can be affirmed with good reason that Christians are people who accept God's promises, build on them, and rely on them. In other words, they hope. Hope is the other side of the coin of faith. In a man's life, however, there can be a disconnect between the two sides. Someone can say "I believe", and yet have very little hope. He is full of disappointment….

The creeping illness of our time is hopelessness. It seems to take root everywhere. Ask the elderly. It was once said that they were the wisest of all people, rich with great experience in life; and for this reason, they were honoured and accepted by everyone. Today, instead, among these very same people are there not many who are hopeless and no longer expect anything? But why? Because they are left alone. They seem to be forgotten. They often seem to be "left over" from a past world, and no one knows quite what to do with them. There is no need for them. An old man who dragged himself around like a forgotten soul once said: "No one is expecting me."

But is this true? Is there really no one who expects him?… Beneath the surface of today's feast, a powerful cry is perceptible: "You are expected! Definitively and for ever, with the guarantee that your expectations will be fulfilled, after perhaps having carried some burdens for a long time and having asked yourself whether it all had any meaning." The cry of hope and encouragement from the finish line reaches those who are still on the journey. It is a cry made up of many voices; a cry that causes hope to dawn: hoping with assurance and trust, hoping in a community and in a brotherhood that knows no disturbance, because the one calling is God.

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Acknowledgement

Pope Benedict XVI. "The Feast That Gives Us Hope." from On Love. Ignatius Press (2020).

Printed in the November 2023 edition of Magnificat. Used with permission.

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The Author

Benedict73smBenedict72Pope Benedict XVI is the author of Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est,The End of Time?: The Provocation of Talking about God, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Salt of the Earth: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church at the End of the Millennium, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, The Spirit of the Liturgy, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction to Christianity, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Behold the Pierced One, and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life.

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