He challenges their Faith: “Who do you say that I am?”
He dashes their Hope: The Son of Man must suffer.
He dares their Love: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
There they are, the three Theological Virtues. They are the basis of our lives – both spiritual and physical.
It is by Faith that we trust in God, His promises, and His Mercy. It is by Faith that we expect our next heartbeat and our next breath, neither of which is guaranteed.
It is by Hope that we believe Jesus’ promises about His Kingdom and our participation in it. It is by Hope that we pray with expectancy for our daily bread and other needs.
It is by Love that we deny our own selfishness to bask in the richness of God’s Love and to share His Love, out of charity – the action of Love – with others.
Without these virtues we are merely lifeless, selfish creatures groveling for food while avoiding predators.
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as His children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1813)
The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit. (CCC 2008)
Is it any wonder that Jesus spoke this openly? What we have to gain through these three Virtues is far beyond anything we might lose in life.