Faith, Hope, Love. A Meditation for the 4th Sunday of Lent by a Priest of the I.V.E.

St Thomas Aquinas's commentary of St Paul's Letter to the Romans, 5

Here is another Lenten reflection from a priest from the Institute of the Incarnate Word, IVE, which is for the week of the 4th Sunday of Lent. This is by Fr Marcelo Navarro who is based in Rome. This is a summary of St Thomas Aquinas's commentary on this Letter of the Apostle and focusses on important virtues for Lenten Season.

St Paul by Giotto

St Paul by Giotto

Romans 5 Faith, Hope, and Love.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peacewith God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom we have gained access [by faith] to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.
3 Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance,
4 and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope,
5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.

n. 381… the Apostle now begins to extol the power of grace.

Concerning this, he does two things. First, he shows what goods we obtain through grace;

second, from what evils we are freed by it, at wherefore as by one man (Rom 5:12).

In regard to the first he does two things. First, he indicates the manner of reaching or the way by which we come to grace; second, the good things we obtain through grace, at and glory in the hope of the glory.

In regard to the first he does two things. First, he exhorts to the due use of grace; second, he shows us the entrance to grace, at by whom also we have access.

382. First, therefore, he says: it has been stated that faith will be reputed as justice to all who believe in Christ’s resurrection, which is the cause of our justification. Being justified therefore by faith, inasmuch as through faith in the resurrection we participate in its effect, let us have peace with God, namely, by submitting ourselves and obeying him: agree with God and be at peace (Job 22:21); who has hardened himself against him and been at peace? (Job 9:4).

And this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has led us to that peace: he is our peace (Eph 2:14).

383. Hence he continues, by whom, namely, Christ, we have access as through a mediator: one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim 2:5); through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Eph 2:18).

Access, I say, into this grace, i.e., to the state of grace: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Wherein, i.e., through which grace, we have not only risen from sin but we stand firm and erect in the heavens through love: our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem (Ps 122:2); we have risen and stand upright (Ps 20:8). And this through faith, through which we obtain grace, not because faith precedes grace, since it is rather through grace that there is faith: by grace you have been saved through faith (Eph 2:8), i.e., because the first effect of grace in us is faith.

384. Then when he says, and glory in the hope of the glory, he indicates the blessings that have come to us through grace.

First, he says that through grace we have the glory of hope; second, that through grace we have the glory of God, at and not only so. In regard to the first he does three things.

First, he shows the greatness of the hope in which we glory; second, its vehemence, at and not only so; third, its firmness, at and hope does not confound.

85. The greatness of hope is considered in terms of the greatness of things hoped for. He sets this out when he says, and glory in the hope of the glory of the sons of God, i.e., in the fact that we hope to obtain the glory of sons of God.

For through Christ’s grace we have received the spirit of adoption of sons (Rom 8:15); behold how they have been numbered among the sons of God (Wis 5:5). But to sons is due the father’s inheritance: if sons, heirs also (Rom 8:17). This inheritance is the glory which God has in himself:have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his? (Job 40:9). Our hope for this has been given to us by Christ:we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and to an inheritance which is incorruptible (1 Pet 1:3). This glory, which will be completed in us in the future, is in the meantime begun in us through hope: for we are saved by hope (Rom 8:24); all those who love your name will glory in you (Ps 5:11).

386. Then when he says, and not only so, he shows the vehemence of this hope.

For anyone who vehemently hopes for something endures difficult and bitter things for it, as a sick person who strongly desires health gladly drinks a bitter medicine to be healed by it. Therefore, the sign of the vehement hope we have for Christ is that we glory not only in virtue of our hope of future glory but also in the evils we suffer for it. Hence he says, and not only so, i.e., we not only glory in the hope of glory, but we glory also in tribulation, through which we arrive at glory: through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22); count it all joy when you meet various trials (Jas 1:2).

387. Then he shows the cause when he says, knowing that.

Here he mentions four things in order: the first is tribulation, about which he says, tribulation works patience, not in the sense that tribulation is the cause that begets it, but because suffering is the material and occasion for exercising the act of patience: be patient in tribulation (Rom 12:12).

388. Second, he mentions the effect of patience when he says, and patience trialfor gold is tested in the fire and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation (Sir 2:5).

For it is plain that we accept the loss of something easily for the sake of another thing we love more. Hence, if a person endures patiently the loss of bodily and temporal goods for the sake of obtaining eternal benefits, this is sufficient proof that such a person loves eternal blessings more than temporal.

However, James seems to say the opposite: the trial of your faith produces patience (Jas 1:3).

The answer is that ‘trial’ can be understood in two ways. In one way, as it takes place in the one tested; then the trial is the very suffering through which a man is tested. Hence, it is the same to say that tribulation produces patience and that tribulation tests patience. In another way, trial is taken for the fact of having been tested. This is the way it is taken here, because if a person endures sufferings patiently, he has been tested.

389. Third, he mentions the third, saying, and trial hope, namely trial brings about hope, because after a person has been tested, hope can be had by himself and by others that he will be admitted to God’s inheritance: God tested them and found them worthy of himself (Wis 3:5).

Therefore, from the first to the last it is clear that suffering paves the way to hope. Hence, if a person rejoices strongly in hope, it follows that he will glory in his sufferings.

390. Then when he says, and hope does not confound, he shows the firmness of such hope.

First, he asserts it, saying, hope, namely, by which we hope for the glory of the sons of God, does notconfound, i.e., does not fail, unless the man fails it. For a person is said to be confounded in his hope, when he falls away from the thing he hoped for: in you, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be disappointed (Ps 31:1); no one has hoped in the Lord and been disappointed (Sir 2:10).

391. Second, at because the charity of God, he presents two arguments for the certainty of hope.

The first is based on a gift of the Holy Spirit; the second on the death of Christ, at for why did Christ (Rom 5:6).

392. First, therefore, he says: we can be certain that hope does not confound, because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.

The love of God can be taken in two ways: in one way, for the love by which God loves us: he loved you with an everlasting love (Jer 31:3); in another way for the love by which we love God: I am sure that neither death, nor life . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38–39). Both these loves of God are poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For the Holy Spirit, who is the love of the Father and of the Son, to be given to us is our being brought to participate in the love who is the Holy Spirit, and by this participation we are made lovers of God. The fact that we love him is a sign that he loves us: I love those who love me (Prov 8:17); not that we first loved God but that he first loved us (1 John 4:10).

The love by which he loves us is said to be poured into our hearts, because it is clearly shown in our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit sealed in us: by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit he has given us (1 John 3:24). But the love by which we love God is said to be poured into our hearts, because it reaches to the perfecting of all the moral habits and acts of the soul; for, as is stated in 1 Corinthians: love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful (1 Cor 13:4).

393. Both interpretations of these words lead to the conclusion that hope does not confound. For if they are taken to mean the love of God by which he loves us, it is clear that God does not deny himself to those whom he loves: he loved his people; all the holy ones were in his hand (Deut 33:3). Similarly, if they are taken as referring to the love by which we love God, it is clear that he has prepared eternal goods for those who love him: he who loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him and manifest myself to him (John 14:21).

St Thomas with St Dominic and Virgin and Child by Fra Angelico

St Thomas with St Dominic and Virgin and Child by Fra Angelico

Notice, in the image above how each person is showing us the Word, Christ, and only Christ engages directly, DC.