Pope Francis returned to the theme of “Christian Hope” in the catechesis during the weekly General Audience. On Wednesday, he focused his attention on the figure of Abram, who became Abraham, our “father in faith and in hope.”
Saint Paul himself pointed to Abram “to indicate the way of faith and of hope.” Abram’s confidence in God’s promise to give him a son was truly a hope “against every hope”, precisely because of his advanced age, and the sterility of Sara, his wife. But Abram believed, and his faith gave way to a new hope, a hope which, to all appearances was unreasonable. His hope “opens new horizons, making him capable of dreaming what is unimaginable.” Hope, the Holy Father said, allows us “to enter into the darkness of an uncertain future to journey in the light.”
It is a difficult journey, though, he continued. Even Abram had moments of crisis and discouragement. In the Gospel passage, the scene where Abram questions God takes place at night – but, the Pope said, in the heart of Abram there is the darkness of disappointment, of discouragement. Even though he spoke familiarly with God, Abram in these moments felt alone, old and tired, with death on his doorstep.
Pope Francis said that even this moment of questioning by Abram is a form of Faith. Despite his disappointment, Abram continued to believe in God – or else why would he complain to Him? Faith, the Pope said, “is not only silence that accepts everything without reply, hope is not a certainty that makes you secure from doubts and perplexity.” Faith can also be “struggling with God, showing our bitterness without ‘pious’ fictions.” And hope, he continued, “is also not being afraid to see reality for what it is and to accept the contradictions.”
The sign that God gives to Abram – “Look at the heavens and count the stars… just so will your descendants be” – is “a call to continue to believe and to hope.” To believe, the Pope concluded, “it is necessary to know how to see with the eyes of faith: They are only stars, which everyone can see, but for Abram they have to become the sign of the faithfulness of God.”
And this, Pope Francis said, is the journey of hope that each one of us must walk.