Does one wait for Heaven as something abstract or as an encounter? Asked Pope Francis on October 23, 2018, during his homily at Mass in Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican. “If you hope, you will never be disappointed,” he affirmed.
In his homily, reported by “Vatican News,” the Holy Father meditated on the terms “fellow citizens” and “inheritance. “ “Our identity is to be healed by the Lord, to be built as community and to have the Holy Spirit in us,” he said.
The inheritance “is what we seek on our way, what we will receive at the end,” thanks to hope which is “the virtue that is perhaps the most difficult to understand.” “What is hope?” he asked. It’s to hope in Heaven, “but what is Heaven for you?”
“To live in hope is to walk towards a prize, towards a happiness that we won’t ever have here, but we will have it there (on high) . . . it’s a virtue that is difficult to understand. It’s a very humble virtue. It’s a virtue that never disappoints: if you hope, you’ll never be disappointed — never, never,” he continued.
Hope is also “a concrete virtue.” “But how can it be concrete, if I don’t know Heaven or what awaits me?” Hope, our inheritance, is hope in something; it’s not an idea, it’s not being in a lovely place . . . no. It’s an encounter. Jesus always stresses this part of hope, the fact of being in expectation, of encounter,” he continued.
Pope Francis gave an image to illustrate hope: a pregnant woman who expects a child. She goes to the doctor’s, he shows her the echography — “Ah, yes, the child . . .he’s fine” . . . No! She is joyful! And every day she caresses her abdomen to caress the child, she is expecting the child, she lives expecting that child. This image can help us to understand what hope is: to live for this encounter. The woman imagines how her child’s eyes are, how his smile will be, if he’ll be blond or brown . . . she imagines the encounter with her child.”
“Do I wait thus, concretely, or do I wait in a somewhat diffused way, somewhat gnostically? — he asked in conclusion. Hope is concrete; it’s of every day because it’s an encounter. And each time that we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the Gospel, in the poor, in communal life; each time we take an extra step towards this definitive encounter.” The Pontiff wished for a Christian “the wisdom to know how to enjoy the small encounters of life with Jesus, while preparing for this definitive encounter.”