And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three… (I Corinthians 13:13)
Christians believe in the Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In a similar way, the Scriptures teach us a trinity of Christian virtues — faith (pistis), hope (elpis), and love (agape).
These virtues go hand-in-hand, as do the three persons of the One Godhead. Together these virtues can produce real fruit in the mature Christian’s life.
From the beginning, St. Paul was keen to proclaim the value of this trinity of virtues. In the opening of his letter to the Thessalonians, he thanks God for the community’s “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 1:3).
Let’s begin with faith. We think of faith primarily as belief ‘in’ something. Faith certainly must have content, or it amounts to mere sentiment. The contents of the Christian’s faith is found in the Nicene Creed.
At a deeper spiritual level, however, to have faith means to be ‘faithful’ — true, trustworthy, and obedient. Faith is more than just a kind of thinking; it is a kind of doing. Faith never rests, it is not static, and you can never say that you’ve fully ‘got it.’ It involves constant effort. Yet faith is not simply of our own doing. God calls us to faith in Him. God is not simply the object of faith, but its source as well.
In next Saturday’s reflection, we will consider hope and love.