Body and Blood of Christ



Celine Mangan


Hope, together with faith and love, is for the apostle Paul, one of the great gifts of the Christian life (see I Cor 13:13). It is the trust that accompanies faith and results in love. In the Hebrew Scriptures, hope was based on the fact that God had been faithful to the people of Israel in past events such as accompanying Abraham in his wanderings (see Gen 12:1-9); leading the people out of Egypt through the desert to the Promised Land (see Ex l5.1-18) and bringing them back from Exile in Babylon (Ezra 1). The prophets pointed out that it was only God who could give Israel a future and a hope (see Jer 29:11) because their God was a God who had made a covenant with them. Even though the people had often broken that covenant God gave them the hope of a new covenant which would be written on their heart (Jer 31:31) exchanging the heart of stone which they had shown towards God for a heart of flesh (Ezek 36:2 5ff).


This hope originally was for a renewal of their present life because, for early Israel there was no knowledge of God in Sheol the place of the dead. But in the later books of the Bible, there was a gradual opening out towards belief in a life after death. Psalm 16:11, for example, spoke of being held by the right hand of God and it was gradually realised that the person who had been held by God could not sink back into nothingness again (see Wis 2:21-24).


In the New Testament we do not actually find the word hope itself in the Gospels. Faith understood as a commitment, contains within itself the meaning of trust which in the Pauline writings is made distinct as hope. In the Epistle to the Romans, Abraham is the model of hope for Paul (see Rom 4:18), believing that God could do the impossible. Christians for Paul must have that kind of hope which will not only liberate them but all creation as well (see Rom 8:18-25). This kind of hope needs patience (Rom 5:4); we can depend on God to give us the means to obtain the object of our hope in a resurrected life (see I Cot 15:19). Hope is a secure anchor (Heb 6:i8-2.o) which will enable us to give an account of the faith that is in us (I Pt 3:15).



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