Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 21, 2017
In the First Letter of St. Peter, our Second Reading (3:15-18), we are told to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” From the earliest days of the Church, God blessed us with followers of Jesus Christ who brilliantly explained the faith. It was through the convincing witness of these early Christian apologists that The Faith spread throughout the ancient world. We are blessed today with multiple resources in multiple media that help us do just that. Theologians and other Christian writers have flooded the marketplace with books that can be classified as “apologetics,” the religious discipline of speaking in defense of what we hold to be true. Besides written publications, there are videos, CDs, and tapes, podcasts, several lecture series available on the Internet, and even movies that offer us ways of explaining why all of our hope rests in Jesus Christ. And this is a good thing.
Recently, a motion picture based on the book called “The Shack” was showing in the theaters. It offered an image of the most significant reason for Christian hope: THE BLESSED TRINITY. But how, if asked, do we even begin to explain that Three is One? “The Shack” does a beautiful job of showing the “threeness” of God. The boundless love and mercy of The Creator is depicted in a very pleasant looking, warm, and sensitive older black woman. Later in the story, the wisdom of the Father takes on the appearance of an elderly Native American man. The person experiencing The Trinity in the movie (as well as the readers and viewers) somehow understand that both are images of the First Person.
God the Son is depicted as a strong, young Jewish carpenter, dressed in a plaid flannel shirt, blue jeans, and sandals. We see Jesus as the kind of fun loving but encouraging person who you really want to be friends with. It’s hard to resist following Him. Finally, a petite wisp of an extraordinarily beautiful young Asian woman tackles the very challenging role of the Holy Spirit. She is so light and airy in appearance and demeanor that it seems you can gaze right through her.
“The Shack” is a profound story, and the movie adaptation does the book justice. However, I have my doubts as to whether someone who has no faith would find either to be a convincing explanation of why our hope rests in Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We need to do better than weaving charming stories around the Divine Life if we are going to capture the attention of the growing numbers of pagans in our world.
In our First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how Philip went down to Samaria to proclaim Christ. He captured the attention of a crowd, both by his words as well as by his deeds. They were convinced and they were converted. What made the first witnesses to Christ so successful in their efforts to bring people to accept the Word of God? (Remember…Jesus IS the Eternal Word of God!) The answer might well rest in today’s Gospel, and easily summarized in one word…LOVE! Philip, Peter, John, and all of the others who walked with Jesus absorbed and reflected the perfect love that radiates from the Son of God…The Second Person of the Trinity. The love that came into the world with Jesus, a love with which His Apostles and disciples were saturated, “went viral.” And having returned to heaven, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit into the world to seal the love of Christ within the hearts of all who believe.
How, then, do we prepare to give an explanation to anyone who asks for the reason for our hope? By loving God with our entire being…and…by loving one another even as we love ourselves.
Love is a more powerful explanation of our faith than any book, any movie, any podcast. Love is the perfect and most convincing explanation of our hope in the goodness and mercy of God…FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT.