May 21, 2017 Sixth Sunday of Easter Deacon Steve Whiteman

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 21, 2017

Reading 1ACTS 8:5-8, 14-17

Responsorial PsalmPS 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

  1. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Reading 21 PT 3:15-18

AlleluiaJN 14:23

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord,
    and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

GospelJN 14:15-21

20/21 May 2017                                                      sharing the reason for our hope                          

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 55

In our 2nd reading today St. Peter tells us to:

“Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…”

St. Peter wrote this in his first letter to the early Christian Church but the message is timeless. It’s just as important today as it was 2000 years ago.

The reason this message is crucial is because it follows the example Jesus gave us during His life on earth. During His public life He was tireless in spreading the Gospel message. He knew His time on earth was limited so His last words before His ascension into Heaven are called the great commission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”

A person might think that evangelizing isn’t my job. It’s easy to believe it’s a job meant for bishops or priests or religious.

In reality, we are all responsible for witnessing our faith. Our faith is a gift from God and sharing the reason we have hope in eternal life may be one of the most important things we do.

From Romans chapter 10 we hear:

“…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved”

Depending on your personality, the thought of evangelizing may be a little intimidating. As it turns out, St. Peter isn’t asking us to preach like Bishop Fulton Sheen or Billy Graham. St. Peter is telling us to help other people understand why we have hope. If our hope is grounded in faith, evangelizing becomes a way of life.

Another stumbling block to sharing our faith might be our lack of understanding. Depending on our experience with Catholic education, there may be some gaps in our knowledge. We might be worried someone will ask a question we can’t answer and look foolish.

Fortunately there are many great resources to help us. There are several books and Catholic websites available. They can provide simple answers for topics that we never completely understood. If we want to dig deeper, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a good place to go.

One of the best ways to share our faith and learn at the same time is to invite a friend to join us in a Catholic study group or retreat. There are several in Dubuque and often mentioned in the bulletin. The people you meet and the things you learn can benefit you the rest of your life.

Let’s take a moment to think back in our own lives. Think of a person who really helped us grow in our faith. Maybe it was a grandparent or teacher we had growing up. Maybe it’s our spouse or coworker who inspires us by the way they live their faith. They may not be quoting the Catechism but it’s clear to everyone they have a strong faith that gives them hope and perspective when times get tough. 

·        So how can we imitate this example in our own life?

·        What can we do to share the reason for our hope?

Many of us are doing this already and I suspect there are many more who would be willing to try. A comparison that might help us is the sports fan. There are lots of sports fans in the world. We might follow baseball, basketball, football or hockey. We might follow 1 team for 1 season or have a favorite team for each season. When our team is doing well we aren’t afraid to share the good news. When the Cubs or Hawkeyes are doing well the hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers and flags are everywhere. 

Can we harness this same enthusiasm for spreading our faith? Can we be a super-fan for the Catholic Church? We don’t have the oldest team in the league but we’ve done pretty well over the past 2000 seasons. We had some growing pains early on but we are well organized now and have some great management in the head office.

There’s nothing wrong with wearing our team colors on game day or sharing the highlights with friends. The challenge we have is keeping things in perspective and helping those same friends who may not have a faith. If they don’t have hope beyond this world there so much we could share with them to save them from despair. 

So consider taking a challenge this week and finding 1 person in our lives who might be on the edge of despair. Pray for the inspiration we need and find a way to share our reason for hope.    

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