Truth is proclaimed through a heart of gentleness, kindness
Readings for Sunday May 21, 2017
Sixth Sunday of Easter
By Glen Argan
Our age is one where respect for truth is in decline. Whether it is political spokespersons presenting “alternative facts” or an ideological denial of the very existence of truth, that which is true is increasingly put in the shade.
This presents a serious problem for Christian proclamation, a task to which every baptized person is called. How does one proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as true and life-giving when truth is no longer a primary concern?
It is curious that just when Western society seems to be turning its back on the truth, Catholic apologetics has grown into a cottage industry. Large numbers of books and TV shows that confidently tout the Catholic understanding of the Gospel are available to all.
My perception is that those primarily find their way into the hands and eyes of Catholics already firm in their faith while the weary world takes little notice. (I have little doubt that that also applies to this blog.)
In this light, Sunday’s Second Reading (1 Peter 3.15-18) offers pertinent advice. St. Peter urges Christians to always be ready to offer a defence of the faith to any who demand it. However, he begins by stating, “In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.” Successful proclamation includes an apologetic, but it begins with a heart steeped in God’s love.
Reasoned defence of the faith must flow from a heart where Christ is the ruler. That defence should be done “with gentleness and reverence.” Your spirit must be such that when people malign you for your good conduct, they, not you, will be put to shame. Your holiness and integrity must be that apparent.
Christ is your example. Christ suffered for your sins and mine; that is how he brought us to God. Christ is the way, the truth and the life, but his truth was apparent through his living more than through reasoned argument.
The First Reading (Acts 8.5-8, 14-17) tells of Philip’s visit to the city of Samaria where he preached about Jesus. Yet, it was the healings and exorcisms worked through him that brought great joy to the city. Peter and John came to the city and laid hands on the Samaritans who received the Holy Spirit.
The success of Christian proclamation comes through the power of the Holy Spirit working through us, the power that brings love, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness and other good things to its recipients. God’s power, including that of the Holy Spirit, is made perfect not in great successes but in weakness.
The success of proclamation comes through Christ who emptied himself on the cross where he breathed forth his Spirit upon the world. It is seen in the blood of the martyrs, and it is revealed also in the disdain poured forth today upon the truth.
So, if you want to proclaim truth, do so with words, but primarily with a heart where Christ is enshrined as Lord.
[Other readings: Psalm 66; John 14.15-21]