Homily by Father Paul Wharton
Well….. Are you ready? … Willing? … Able? I am not talking about the end of this pandemic, but of something more important. The Letter of Peter is very clear on this. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” Consider with me some of the reasons we Christians have to hope at all times, but especially when we experience hardship and trials like now.
God created this amazing world and all plants and animals and people for a reason. God wants to share life and love with us. We have self-awareness and the ability to know and love.
God gives us the gift of — and the responsibility for — our freedom. We can choose life or death, grace or sin, God or people, places, and things, purpose and meaning or angst and ennui, Heaven or Hell. Love is not real unless it is freely given and received. This is why we are free to choose.
When people used this freedom to turn away from God, God loved us more than ever. God sent Jesus of Nazareth — fully God, and fully human — to save us from the power of sin and death. Because Jesus willingly suffered and died for us, our sins can be forgiven and we might have eternal life. When we wander away, when we make bad choices, when we sin, our Good Shepherd seeks us out.
Saint Augustine declared God loves each of us as if we were the only person in all creation. Speaking through the Prophet Isaiah, God says our names are written on the palms of his hand and our Creator will NEVER forget us.
Another reason we have for our hope is that God is always reaching out to us: through the words of Sacred Scripture, the seven sacraments, our worship and prayer, other people, dreams, the words and witness of saints, holy men, women, and children. God speaks to us through the Church and in the events of our lives — birth, death, and pandemic.
God gives us the blessing of a purpose in life: to know, love, and serve God in this life so we can be happy with God forever in the next. Saint John Henry Newman believed God has entrusted some work for each of us to do, which has not been committed to another.
We have been told that Jesus IS with us always to help us carry our crosses, live out our faith, and do what disciples are called to do. Remember we must ask before we receive, seek before we find, and knock before we are admitted.
There ARE more, but last reason for our hope I will mention is this. Jesus has prepared a place for those who love Him. After we die, we are promised eternal life in the presence of God that will be so wonderful we can only just begin to imagine.
I began my homily two weeks ago with a quotation by Saint Clement of Alexandria. I’ll end this homily with another: “If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.”