Activating Real Hope
In older versions of the Bible, like the King James Version, the word for "love" was "charity.” By definition, charity is to be generous or helpful, particularly to those in need. Faith, on the other hand, means to trust and believe in something. And hope means to expect or desire something.
Faith and hope are ways of believing, thinking, and feeling. Love is a way of being. Faith and hope are more of a state of mind. Love, or charity, is an action. Faith and hope are personal, and love can be directed toward our neighbors as well. Faith and hope are human qualities, and love is divine - God is love.
While Paul does not explicitly say why love is the greatest, it is likely because love is the manifestation of faith and hope. Love is faith expressed. Love is hope activated. If love is faith expressed and hope activated, and if charity means to express our faith through action to those in need, to whom should this love flow?
When speaking about the sheep and the goats, Jesus says "the least of these" are those who are thirsty, hungry, strangers; the naked, the sick, and the prisoners. Jesus says we are blessed by the Father when we care for the least of these because it is as if we are caring for Jesus himself. God gives us a personal invitation to a partnership of love, and to be charitable to our most vulnerable neighbors.
When we think about the least of these in our world today, we especially think of those who are thirsty. Currently, there are 844 million people on earth do not have access to clean, safe water. Most live in rural, hard-to-reach places that have been forgotten by the rest of the world.
We can stand firm in faith, hope, and love. We can stand firm as we express our faith and activate our hope, and bring clean, safe water to the least of these. As we express our faith and activate our hope through loving action, we also bring hope to a vulnerable, thirsty world.
“I've seen a great change in my village,” says Gete ( a mother of four) from her home in rural Ethiopia. “Our new habits, and the clean water have been a blessing from God. This has given us joy and hope."