Three Theological Virtues

Road sign saying Faith, Hope Love

Is self-giving irrational? Some would think so. But it is exactly this kind of love that Jesus speaks of throughout this week’s readings from John’s gospel.  It brings true joy into life simply because the focus of the activity is on the other, not on the self.  In this way, it is shared. Christ gave Himself to us with an infectious joy. When we do the same, we share in that joy.  How might we give to others and share our joy this week?

When we eventually meet Jesus, what will we take with us? Obviously we cannot take our possessions and our accomplishments may not mean that much. So, what will we have?  In his first letter to the church at Corinth, St. Paul gave us an answer. When we stand before God, we can have faith in Him, we will have hope in what God does for us, and we will treat each other with love and respect. These are the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and love. And love is the most important of them all!

Faith:  This is the quality of trust in others and a belief in the truth they tell us. With faith, we freely trust God and believe what He tells us through scripture. With faith, we will want to show others how we trust God and urge them to believe His words. With faith, we try to figure out God’s will in our lives and follow His will.  Faith in God can sometimes be hard. We fight our own laziness and doubts and we face the hatred of others. But God wants us to stand firm. If we trust in God and believe His words to us, we will persevere.

Hope:  In John 15:14-16, Jesus said He chose us to be His friends. No matter what happens, Jesus stands beside us, encourages us, and helps us as a loved friend.  That thought should give us hope.  Hope is a desire for a future with God. Our hope is not based on our own strength, but finds its source in the power of God’s Spirit. No matter what happens, hope supports us when everything looks dark. Hope promises us a better future and encourages us to do acts of love for others.

Love:  Jesus gave His followers a new command: love each other as He has loved us.  Love is more than warm feelings for another person. When Jesus told His followers to love each other, He commanded them to treat each other with respect and kindness. He wanted His followers to treat others the same way they would like to be treated themselves, regardless of feelings. He wanted us to show love even to our enemies. Luke 6:27 says “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”  The implication is that if we only love those who love us, what good is that? If we only show kindness to those who are kind to us, what have we gained?

This kind of love is also called “Christian charity.” When we love God over everything else, and we love others as we love ourselves, we practice Christian charity. When we act in this way, we do more than just show kindness. Christian charity shows others how God loves us. It shows others we are God’s children.

Let us reflect on ways we might show God’s love to others this week.


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