One of my favorite parables from the Gospels is the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is rich in thematic and human emotions. Of all the characters that are presented it is the figure of the father that has always attracted my attention. As a parent, I can imagine the anguish and the enormous sadness the father experiences at the loss of his son. Yet, I believe it is his sense of hope that sustains him during this moment of his life.
Parenting is not an easy task. We all have great expectations and hopes for our children. We want them to strive, succeed and be happy. When these expectations are shattered, for whatever reasons, we cling unto the only virtue that in some way brings us to the other side of the tunnel - Hope.
Of the three virtues, hope is the one that assures us there is something more in the midst of our tragedy. Even when we suffer the loss of a loved one we hope that we will someday be reunited again. Without hope we fall into despair. We allow ourselves to be trapped into the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre plagued with anguish.
But anguish and despair are conquered by hope. Jürgen Moltmann, the German theologian, in his book Experiences of God says "we are called to hope. . . . It is a call: the call to divine life." Having a strong spiritual life, no matter what religion you profess, only enhances your capacity to hope. Having a strong spiritual life is the antidote for despair.
Charles Péquy, the French poet, wrote that hope was given to us one Christmas Eve. Hope encompasses all. Faith sees he who is; hope sees he who shall be. Charity loves he who is; hope loves he who shall be.
And so, the father, filled with hope, awaited the Prodigal Son seeing he who would be and loving he who would come home.
O my God,
relying on Thy almighty power
and infinite mercy and promises,
I hope to obtain pardon for my sins,
the help of Thy grace,
and life everlasting,
through the merits of Jesus Christ,
my Lord and Redeemer.