Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Can You Explain Your Faith? (5-29-11)

"Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope..."  (1 Peter 3:15)

It was 11:00 p.m. on Thursday evening, and I was ready to turn off the TV and head to bed.  At the time, I really didn't have a reason to hope.  We were down by 12 points with just a little over 3 minutes to go.  But then Dwayne Wade happened and then LeBron James happened  In the blink of an eye the deficit was erased, the game was won, and we were headed to The Finals.  There is always a reason for hope.  That performance from LeBron James elicited comparisons to the great Michael Jordan.  I have seen both of them play in person and there is no argument.  Michael Jordan did things with the basketball that I've never seen a human being do.  LeBron is a great player, but sometimes he isn't the best player on his own team.  Dwayne Wade already has a championship and I've seen him do things that are super human.  But nothing like Jordan.  That's the beauty of sports.  You get into arguments like this over who is the best player.  It happens all the time in baseball as well like who is the greatest baseball player ever.  Was it Babe Ruth, Willy Mays, Joe DiMaggio?  The reason we get into these lively arguments, discussions or debates is because we have statistics and sometimes a bit of passion to back them up...  

I interrupt this sports column to finally bring you my homily.  We are so prepared to enter into all sorts of arguments or debates whether it be about sports, politics, or even the best movies or TV shows, but are as passionate and knowledgable about our faith?  In the second reading, St. Peter exhorts the early Christians to "always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope."  We are knowledgable about a great many things that are, in the final analysis, trivial, but do we really know our faith?  Our faith should be part of who we are, and just like we can reel off the history of our family, we should be able to reel off the great mysteries of our faith.  This morning two members of our Men's Ministry were out in the courtyard after Mass and one of them was talking about a discussion he had with a Protestant brother over matters of faith.  He went on to explain how he defended our Catholic faith to his Protestant brother, and even though neither conceded their positions, at least our Catholic brother was ready, willing, and able to share and explain the beauties of the Catholic faith that at times are questioned.

In today's gospel, Jesus promises us the Spirit of truth, and this Spirit comes upon us not only to strengthen our faith but to enlighten us.  Remember that the apostles did not fully comprehend all that Jesus did and said until they received the fulness of the Holy Spirit.  It is that Spirit of truth that we call upon today to help us to better defend and share our faith.  Would you be able to adequately give an explanation of your faith if asked?  Let me give a concrete example:  how many of you know that today's first reading from Acts in which Peter and John come down from Jerusalem and impose hands on the baptized Samaritans so they might receive the Holy Spirit is the biblical basis for the sacrament of Confirmation?  This Spirit of truth was given to us to enlighten us, but we must be willing to be enlightened.  As a priest, I can only tell you so much during my Sunday homilies.  You have to take the initiative to go and dig deeper into the Scripture and into the teachings of the Church.  It's not just knowing what we believe, but also why we believe it.  We cannot have an ignorant faith.  We must have an informed and enlighten faith if we are to follow what the second reading tells us.  Our Church Church holds the fullness of truth given to us by our Savior.  Today we must ask ourselves:  how well do we know this truth and we ready to give an explanation of this truth?