Homily for May 25

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Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

(Following the text of my homily, you'll find an audio of us singing 
"Give Me Jesus" after Communion at the 11:30 Mass)

Has anyone ever asked you why you’re a Catholic?
Or why you’re still a Catholic?
Or how you can remain a Catholic
given the scandals in the Church
and some difficult Church teachings?
Have you ever asked yourself these very same questions?
Do you sometimes wonder why you’re still a Catholic?
And yes, at times these are my questions, too.

There’s a verse in the second scripture today
that we might find helpful in this regard.
 We heard these words:
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you
for a reason for your hope.

Our hope…  our hope as Catholic people…

There are certainly those in the world
who think the Catholic Church is hopeless:
a hopelessly outdated institution,
a bureaucracy lost in hopeless self-protection,
a religion hopelessly stuck in a primitive world view.

Even if such a critique blatantly ignores what’s clearly hope-filled
and positive and life-giving about the Church,
such criticisms are not wholly without merit
and it’s the responsibility of the Church to respond to them.
And it does. 

But how about us?   
How about you and me?

How might we individual Catholics respond to our family members,
our friends and neighbors, our classmates and co-workers
when they ask us:  to give an explanation for a reason for our hope…

Right now, some might say that Pope Francis 
is the reason for our hope.
Though he hasn’t changed any church teachings
he’s certainly changing the conversation
around precisely some of the issues that trouble so many.
He seems to have put a new face on Catholicism,
almost as if he’s rebranding our faith
and people of all stripes are drawn to him and his words
and especially his example – how he “walks the talk.”

But of course, the day will come
when we will mourn the death of Pope Francis.
Or perhaps, like Benedict, Francis will retire.
In either case, we have no idea who might succeed Francis
whom so many have come to love so quickly.
Popes come and go: no one pope can be the reason for our hope.
There is, in fact, only one reason for our hope  -only one-
and it’s the same in every age, in every era.

The only explanation we Catholics can give as the reason for our hope
is Jesus….  Jesus….   Jesus…  Jesus…

But don’t the sacraments give us hope?
new life in baptism, the gift of the Spirit in confirmation,
the very real presence of Christ in the eucharist,
the forgiveness of sins in confession?
Of course!  But in each of these, at the heart of every sacrament,
waits an encounter with Jesus.

But can’t we find hope in the counsel, the wisdom the truth
of 2,000 years of teaching and preaching the gospel?
Of course!  But if we don’t find Jesus in the Word
then all we’re left with are some ancient books and a code of laws.

The only explanation we Catholics can give as the reason for our hope
is  --  Jesus.

Another pope, now Saint John Paul II put it this way when he wrote:
"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness.
He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.
He is the beauty to which you are so attracted.
It is Jesus who provokes in you that thirst for fullness
that will not let you settle for compromise.
It is Jesus who urges you to shed the masks of a false life.
It is Jesus who reads in your heart your most genuine choices,
the choices that others try to stifle.
It is Jesus who stirs in you
the desire to do something great with your life,
the will to follow an ideal,
the refusal to allow yourself to be ground down by mediocrity,
the courage to commit yourself humbly and patiently
to improving yourself and society,
making the world more human and more fraternal.”

It is Jesus.  It is Jesus. 
It is Jesus who is the only explanation we have to give
to anyone who asks us for the reason for our hope.

I’m not sure we’ll all be comfortable in giving that answer
to family, friend, neighbors, classmates and colleagues
when they ask us why we’re still Catholic.
I’m not sure we’ll be prepared to say,
“Why am I still Catholic? Because of Jesus!”
It may feel a little strange to say that,
it might make us a little uncomfortable.
It might make us feel evangelical.
It might make us feel Protestant!
They are on to something!
Or even better: they’re on to some one – and it is Jesus!
We might even be uncomfortable giving the Jesus answer to ourselves!
So this might be the task ahead for us.
Perhaps what we Catholics need to do is to pray
and ask ourselves, each one of us, this question:
“Have I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior?”
Me: Austin Fleming.     
You: fill in your name.
Do we have a personal relationship with Jesus who is, after all,
the only reason for our hope.

Whether or not you and I have accepted him,
Jesus has accepted us and out of love for us
he has carried all our sins on his shoulders
and has given his life for us on the Cross.

He accepts each of us, personally, as his brother, as sister,
and invites us to his table
where he will give himself to us again, in his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

So come… 
Come and accept and receive him, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
who is the only explanation you and I have to give
as the reason for our hope. 

After Communion, we sang Give Me Jesus.
Please join us in our prayer here...



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  1. I was out of town for this homily, but am so glad to have had it pointed out to me. And the music is transporting--- thank you! G Maguire

  2. Thankyou for sharing your very thoughtful words. I clearly remember that homily. Tags for challenging us.
    Hugh McCrory


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