Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


6th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
May 25th, 2014
Year A

Have you ever had the experience of making it known to your friends, colleagues and even some relatives that you are a practicing Catholic? Sometimes the reactions that we get from making such a thing known are not so charitable. People have mixed feelings about the Church, about religion and God. Nonetheless, once this bit of information is public, all of a sudden, you become the spokesperson for the Catholic Church. You might as well hold up a sign that says: “ask me anything, I’m Catholic.” It can be a bit unnerving, especially if we are not well informed about our faith, its rituals and practices. This is the irrational cause for so many of us to “keep it private.” So many Catholics in today’s world are afraid to share the faith – afraid of offending another person’s beliefs or religious practices. We are afraid because we don’t want to come across as condescending to others. We are afraid because we don’t know much about our own faith and therefore cannot speak about it. This, however, is not what St. Peter tells us in the second reading of the Mass. He states:

“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, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.”

St. Peter exhorts us not to back away or back down. He exhorts us to not be afraid but rather to be ready. He is saying that we ought not to put others down but give “a reason for your hope.” We are not asked to be theologians, we are not asked to give an oral presentation on the doctrine of the Trinity. We are called upon to give a reason for our hope. In this sense, we are not to point the finger at anyone, we don’t have to be always on the defensive. Rather, we simply state the reasons for our belief, the reason for our faith in Christ and why we live this faith within the context of the Catholic Church.

Now, this may all sound quite overwhelming. One might be inclined to think: “I’m not qualified to give this sort of testimony” or “I wouldn’t know what to say.” Our Lord’s words to the disciples offer us a bit of hope and consolation here:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and he will send you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth…”

Jesus promises His disciples the Holy Spirit – the advocate, from the Greek meaning: “called to be beside one,” to accompany, console, protect and defend. It is the role of the Holy Spirit to guide, protect and vivify the Church. Thus, Jesus is sayaing that we have nothing to fear, we no need to worry, we can cast aside silly excuses for not speaking up with regard to our faith because the Spirit will come and protect us, guide us, give us life… the Spirit of Truth. It is the Spirit that helps us to deepen our knowledge, understanding, and practice of our faith. The Spirit reveals that which lies beyond the natural capacity of our reason. The Spirit brings about a profound encounter with the living God where He is made known and His truth is revealed. Yet, this does not excuse us from doing our part. In the promise of the Spirit, Jesus first tells His disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We have a responsibility to remain faithful to God – to His teachings, rites, rituals, and practices. We have a responsibility to study of our faith – to fill our minds so that our hearts may be plunged into a greater depth of love for God. We are not off the hook here. We may not know everything nor understand it all, but we would be in a better position to give a reason for our hope when we engage our faith, when we begin to make the necessary connections that further and deepen our beliefs. If we can do this, St. Josemaria Escriva reminds us: “in spite of our great limitations, we can look up to heaven with confidence and joy: God loves us and frees us from our sins. The presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the Church are a foretaste of eternal happiness, of the joy and peace for which we are destined by God” (Christ is Passing By, 128).

In other words, there is nothing to fear. We have no need to feel that we are inadequate. We have no reason for not doing our part in learning our faith, deepening our understanding, and forming our conscience in right reason and moral goodness because all of us, I’m sure, at one time or another have all been asked: “why are you Catholic?” “Why do you go to Church?” For the Holy Spirit is within us to guide, protect and vivify – to bring us life. The confidence we have is found in Him and thus gives us the boldness that is so needed in today’s secular society to be identified with Christ and the hope of eternal life.

As we prepare for Pentecost, may the words of this prayer fill our minds and hearts and draw us deeper into the love of Christ: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful. Enkindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth.”



Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

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