Scripture: I Thessalonians 1:2-5,8-10. Psalm 149: 1-2,2-3, 4-5. Matthew 23:13-22:
After reading the epistles many times, I came to realize the importance of the Thanksgiving which is given right after the greeting and address to a particular Church or individual. In I Thessalonians we have Paul’s very first inspired writing in the New Testament written as early as 49 A.D. within twenty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is a faith filled work that helps us in our own growth in faith and prayer.
For the first time ever we learn of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love (charity) which are given to each of the baptized when they receive their first sacrament of initiation into the Church. St. Paul has the honor of being the first apostle and author to speak of them together and he does so with convincing action words that are given with each of these gifts that relate us directly to God, hence, they are called theological virtues.
For the virtue of faith Paul modifies it with a word which means “work, energy, practical action, deed, task (ergon);” for hope he uses a word which means “perseverance, sheer dogged-endurance, patience, steadfastness (hypomone), and for love (kopos) which is used for apostolic action and love for others despite difficulties, labor, or toil. These virtues are never passive but are the energy flowing from our inward union with Christ. They unite us to each person of the Trinity and enable us to grow into the maturity that Christ calls us to experience. They are electrifying virtues that the Spirit gives to us at Baptism. We need to use the energy that comes from them every day as we enter into the work of love for one another and for God. These virtues are to be put into action each day as we begin our journey and our ministries.
In the same epistle Paul clearly mentions all three persons of the Blessed Trinity. God is “our Father”, the Son of God is “the Lord Jesus Christ,” and the third person is the “Holy Spirit.” Through the gifts of faith, hope, and love we are in a relationship with each person of the Trinity. They are accurately called theological virtues in our tradition and our theology.
Each time we pray a doxology we honor the Trinity: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” We renew our Baptism with this prayer that honors Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The word “Doxa” means the glory of God, the Presence of God. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.