Monday, May 30, 2011

6th Sunday of Easter - homily

"Always be ready to give...a reason for your hope".

Recently, I was talking to a group of women whom I had just met. We were in a short car ride and talking about good things going on in the Church. I blurted out my usual line, "God is good". A couple of the women nodded in agreement, but one of them replied, "I don't know about that". The other ladies asked why she said it, and the woman expressed her doubts, mainly with the story of a friend whose twin girls died at birth. Her friend had been living a sinful life but began to turn her life around before she became pregnant. She now feels that God is punishing her for her past sins, and the woman with whom we were speaking feels the same way.

It's moments like these as a priest that I call on the Spirit of truth to help me out. My basic prayer is usually, "ok, Spirit, you gotta help me, because I have no clue what to say". The Spirit came through, as usual. After listening to this woman a few more minutes, I said, "God is not punishing your friend. The Catechism of our Church teaches that God does not seek vengeance for our sins. He is not punishing her. In fact, He is even more upset about the twins' deaths than she is, as sad as she is". I wasn't sure how that would be received by the woman who had said she stopped going to Church long ago. Her reply: "tell me more".

I told her what our second reading teaches: that Christ suffered for sins once. He was an innocent victim. He wasn't punished by the Father. Her friend is there with Christ on the Cross. She is not being punished. We reached our destination and as she was getting out of the car, the woman thanked me for my words which she said were "beautiful". Ahh, thank you, Spirit of truth for your beautiful words!

Folks, we always need to be ready to give a reason for our hope. We always need to be ready to give an explanation for our faith. Sometimes, we only have five minutes like I did in the car. This might be the only five minutes people will have with the Gospel their whole lives. So, we have to be ready. I know that it's a daunting challenge. It can be completely overwhelming to people to explain our faith at any moment - in a car or subway, at a party, or even on the street.

If we are really living our Catholic faith, then we will be asked about it at some point. People see us as the disciples of Jesus. They expect that we know our faith...that we know the Spirit of truth, as our Lord says in today's Gospel.

They want to know the truth about God and turn to us for help. They want to know the truth about suffering...about sin and evil...about Heaven. They want to know what the Catholic Church teaches. I went to a graduation party yesterday. Within the first five minutes of being there, a non-Catholic asked me, "did Jesus have any brothers or sisters?" We always have to be ready.

We don't always have to have the answers, but we should know where to find the answers. Certainly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the best resource. You can google search the catechism or other Catholic websites for your answers (like our GW Catholic Q&A blog site!). Yesterday, at the party, I simply gave a link to a website called "Catholic Answers" which addressed the question of Jesus's siblings (cousins is more like it).

So, you can go online to good Catholic sites or you can go to a good Catholic bookstore like the Catholic Information Center down the street for books on what the Churches teaches. But, you may want to start with a prayer to the Spirit. Ask the Spirit to help you to know the truth and to guide you to truth. He will. He is the Spirit of truth and the Spirit of joy. When we come to know the truth, we come to know joy. And, then we can share that with others. The woman in the car showed real joy the next day when I saw her. She knew the truth about God and the Church's teaching on suffering! And, she said she would share that truth and joy with the mother of the twins.

Finally, God wants us to know and live in the Spirit, the Spirit of truth. Life in the Spirit - to which Jesus was raised - is a life of joy! When we live in the Spirit, we are filled with joy like the early Church was in the first reading. At the center of our life in the Spirit is the Eucharist. What joy this brings us to receive Christ in the Eucharist! If there is one teaching to know and to know well, it is the Eucharist. Jesus teaches more on the Eucharist than any other teaching. He wants us to know, believe, and share the truth of the teaching of His Real Presence in the Eucharist. When we know it, we know truth and joy. When we know it, we want to share it with everyone we know. We want them to know how awesome it is to live in the Spirit, the Spirit of truth.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I kinda disagree this time. I do think that God punishes us for our sins. Not because he is a mean God but because it is only fair and just. Maybe I am confused, but I do think that he does. I am living with a horrific incurable disease that has nothing to do with my past sins - sins can't cause this particular disease that I have - but I have a feeling that is a punishment for my past sins.