God, The Reason for our Hope, 6th Sunday of Easter (A), May 5, 2002

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Espirito Santo Parish, Fall River, MA
6th Sunday of Easter, A
May 5, 2002
Acts 8:5-8,14-17; 1Pet 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21

Outline for Portuguese homily

A. Reason for our hope
1) Peter tells us always to be ready to give the reason for our hope, to whoever asks.
2) Nowadays is a day when we have to have great hope.
a) Shortage of people coming to Mass.
b) Shortage of vocations. Closing of Churches.
c) Growing immorality.
d) Scandals involving priests breaking their promises to God and to the Church as well as scandals among certain bishops and their collaborators not doing what Christ would have wanted to prevent these abuses.
e) All this in addition to the personal difficulties that each of us has, in our fight against sin, in our living the life day to day.
3) Yet Peter calls us to be ready to give reasons for hope. Today we will focus on those reasons and on how we’re called to give them.

B. God is the reason for our hope.
1) God loves us. In this Easter Season we celebrate the fact that he loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for us and our sins, so that we might live forever. If God did not even spare his own Son, will he not give us everything else besides?
2) When we accept Christ, when we accept him completely in our lives and conform ourselves to him, he comes with great healing. We learn to trust in him. To see that everything works out for the good for those who love him. And this leads to rejoicing.
3) We see this in the mission of the deacon St. Philip in the first reading. He proclaimed Christ, Christ brought this healing through Philip, and the result was great rejoicing.

C. God sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts to solidify this hope and make us capable of sharing it with others.
1) Mission of Peter & John. Samarians had accepted word of God from deacon Philip. Peter & John were sent to confirm them, by laying on of hands.
2) God continues to send the Holy Spirit into us, as he did to 59 young people on Wednesday by Bishop O’Malley, as he did at our Confirmation, as he does in each of the Sacraments.
3) Jesus says he will give us another Paraclete, a helper, the Spirit of Truth.
a) Paraclete is a defender, someone who stands up for us and helps us.
b) Jesus is the first Paraclete. He says he will give us another, the Holy Spirit.
c) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, that leads us into the fullness of truth, reminds us of everything that Christ said and did. Christ’s actions and words are the source of our hope. We see the truth that everything works out for the good for those who love God, even our sins (O happy fault) even death.
d) This Holy Spirit is what helps us to cry out, Abba, Father, to rejoice with inexpressible groanings as we await the redemption of our bodies.

D. The Holy Spirit abides in us to remind us of everything Christ said and did, thereby allowing us to follow him, and in following him live out of hope in him and in his promises.
1) Christ says to that love shows its obedience to God. It’s not just a feeling of attraction, but a fidelity to the one we love.
2) Christ showed us how to love, by his loving obedience to His Father even unto death.
3) If we love him, we will obey him, not just because we have to, but because we know who he is. He is God. We’re not. Each of these commandments is meant to help us learn how to love. At first we might think that keeping the commandments might not make us happy, that it will reduce our freedom, but exactly the opposite is true. It’s only in keeping the commandments that we experience the real joy and freedom of being a child of God.
4) If we obey, if we love, then the Holy Spirit can abide in us and live fully. If we don’t love, if we sin, then we kick him out. If he comes, then we will experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which St. Paul tells us (Gal 5:22) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

E. This hope lasts through suffering.
1) St. Peter tells us right after he says that we will have to give reason for hope within us, that we will have to suffer, just like Christ.
2) We’ll have to suffer on account of our faith, if we’re going to live it fully in the midst of a world that doesn’t easily accept it. We’re going to have to give reasons for our hope to those who are not open to the truth.
3) But if we do so, we have great hope that we will, with Christ, receive the fullness of our hope, that eternal kingdom, full of eternal peace and joy, which he gained for us by his sufferings, death and resurrection. Christ is our Hope. We are called to be witnesses to Him. Witnesses to Hope. May the Holy Spirit he sends, the Spirit of Truth, help us in this vital mission, so that others, in seeing our hope, might be brought to God, the source of all of our hope.