6th Sunday of Easter, Year A
Acts 8:5-8, 11-17
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 (1)
1 Peter 3:15-18
May 17, 2020
Jesus calls us to proclaim the gospel message. Just before his Ascension, Jesus tells his disciples to go out and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The early church went out. Today we hear of how “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them.” Remember, the Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another. That is no more. The gospel is meant for all.
Philip was empowered to drive out demons and cure many people. This got the attention of many people such that they “paid attention to what was said by Philip.”
The Coronavirus has gotten the attention of many people. It has got people to open themselves to God. For some practicing Catholics, they are finding out how important their faith is to them. Some people who hadn’t been going to church are watching Mass via live streaming. This is good news.
We need to do more to proclaim the gospel.
Unfortunately, because of the Coronavirus, we can’t go out right now as Philip went out. As a parish we are making use of livestreaming, Facebook, and our website to share our faith. Perhaps, you use social media to share your faith. Yet, still, we can’t go out physically.
That shouldn’t stop us from the work of proclaiming the gospel, the work of evangelization. There is another way to evangelize.
For this we turn to Peter’s words, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear.”
In this time of the Coronavirus pandemic we need hope. God gives us hope. We are united in hope through our celebration of Mass. If we share our hope in God, we are proclaiming the gospel.
Yet, we still can’t go out. How are we to share our hope?
First, we are not to be pushy. We are to “do it with gentleness and reverence.”
We share our hope by declaring what God has done for us as the explanation for our hope.
You probably aren’t seeing a lot of people in person. However, how many people are you talking to on the phone or online? What do you talk about? Do you talk about how you are dealing with the shutdown? Is God part of the conversation?
What if you are talking with someone who may not go to church or is sounding depressed? Again, we are not to be pushy with our faith but would you ever consider simply saying, “I’m glad I have my faith to help me through this.” If they don’t respond, that is their choice. You have opened the door.
Of course, our hope would be that they would respond. They might talk about their own faith. They might ask about your faith. This is where you give an explanation for your hope.
You don’t have to give a big theological discourse. Going back to our first reading, Philip went out to Samaria but he didn’t have to do all the work of evangelization all by himself. Once the apostles in Jerusalem heard of the success of Philip’s efforts (through God’s grace), they sent Peter and John to join him.
So, what is the reason for your hope? Only you can speak about your personal experiences of faith. For me, I think about how God has filled a void in my life. I think about how, when things go bad because of human choices, God has always been there with me. For instance, it took me a long time when I graduated from college for engineering to find a job. However, I didn’t get depressed. I didn’t have to live on the streets. I didn’t realize it then but now I can look back on those days and see how God was walking with me.
What about reasons for our hope that apply to all of us?
First and foremost is that we know that Jesus died for us. He was willing to lay down his life for us. What greater love could He ever shown for us?
We also know that even though Jesus has ascended into Heaven, He has not abandoned us. In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us, “I will not leave you orphans.” He returns to his place at the right hand of the Father. There He asks the Father to “give us another Advocate to be with you always.” He gives us the Holy Spirit who is always present with us.
These are the things God has done for us. These are the explanation for our hope. Life in this world is not perfect. We suffer. We can choose to see the cup as half-empty, thinking about what we don’t have. Or we can choose to see the cup as half-full, giving thanks for what God has given us. We need to “shout joyfully” and “sing praise” for all the good things God has done for us.
Jesus died for us. He did this to lead us to our Father. Jesus speaks of how He and the Father are one and that we are in him as He is in us.
We give praise, we “shout joyfully” for all that God has done for us.