Third Sunday of Easter
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 & 10:00 Mass
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4:2, 4, 7-8, 9; 1 John 2:1-5a; Luke 24:35-48
Good morning! Is it possible that you have a friend, or possibly an acquaintance, who knows little or nothing about the Gospel message? We might find it hard to believe that there are people in the world today who have never heard the good news that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. But it’s true! There are, indeed, many people today who have not heard this good news, people who have been raised in a non-Christian household. Our job as baptized Christians is to share Christ with others. How do we do this? How do we share our faith who have never been catechized?
A few years ago Christine and I encountered someone who had absolutely no exposure to Christianity. At the time we owned a business and we purchased our products from a factory in China. Our representative was a Chinese woman named Ketty who had been given an opportunity to come to the States to study. She was studying in Boston and we were looking for an opportunity for her to visit our home so we could get to know her better. She decided that she was going to come visit us for Thanksgiving.
One morning that weekend we were enjoying breakfast together and we shared with Ketty that I was studying to become a deacon. She had no idea what a deacon was, and neither did she know anything at all about Christianity. I realized that I needed to share with her the fundamentals of our faith. I proceeded to explain to her the “kerygma” of our faith, the essence of the Christian message. What we believe and why we believe it. At that moment the Holy Spirit led me to share our faith with this woman who’s upbringing had never afforded her an opportunity to hear the Gospel message.
- I started with the basics from the book of Genesis. How our first parents, Adam & Eve, had been created by God to live with him in paradise. How they committed the first sin, the original sin, by disobeying him.
- I explained that the effect of their sin separated them from God because they chose not to listen to him, but to do that which he specifically told them not to do.
- I told Ketty how from that very moment God initiated a sequence of events designed to bring his disobedient children back to him. That he had a plan to restore the relationship of all the people on earth to that which our first parents had with him before they went their own way.
- I spoke to her about how God in ages past sent several prophets to his chosen people, the Jewish people, to teach them his ways, and to give them his laws. Through these prophets he promised them that a time of salvation was coming…a time when he would forgive them their sins and restore them to a right relationship with him.
- I then shared the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son who was sent into the world to take on our human flesh so that he would be just like us in all things but sin. In other words, this Jesus, God himself, would experience everything we human beings experience, but who was incapable of disobeying his Father, of committing sin.
- I also explained that this God/man Jesus was in fact God’s Word, the one who had spoken the universe into existence at the beginning of time itself.
- That the promises of God made throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, have now been fulfilled with the coming of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son.
- I shared with her Jesus’ 3-year ministry of teaching, healing the sick, and performing other mighty works by the power of God.
- I explained how he was crucified according to the purpose of God so that the sins of the world might be atoned for by him to satisfy God’s perfect justice.
- I explained how Jesus defeated death when he was raised from the dead by the power of God and given an immortal, glorified human body. How several eyewitnesses saw him as he appeared to his disciples in his resurrected body. How he promised that all who believed in his resurrection would themselves be raised in his name as very members of his body, each with their own glorified body.
- I also shared with our friend the eyewitness accounts that some 40 days after his resurrection, he ascended to heaven to take his seat at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and that he sent the Holy Spirit into the world to be our guide, our Advocate. That this Holy Spirit is also God, specifically the love between the Father and the Son, the love that proceeds from the Father and the Son as the third person of the Godhead. One God, in three divine persons, the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
- Finally I explained that the ascended, glorified Jesus would one day come again as the just judge who would mercifully exercise God’s judgement on all people, those both alive and dead at the time of his coming.
- I explained that all who hear and believe this message should repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.
- I shared Christ’s promise that anyone who confesses their sins and is truly sorry for them, regardless of what those sins might be, will be shown God’s mercy and be brought by the power of his love into his heavenly kingdom where we will live forever in his presence, and experience for all eternity the fullness of his joy and peace.
- I also explained that because God is Love itself, he does not force us to accept his gift of salvation. That we have free will because of the nature of true love and, as such, we are able to choose whether or not we believe in this Good News or not.
- How if we choose not to repent and amend our lives, God respects our choice and he allows us to be eternally separated from him. This is the nature of love, which never forces us to do something against our will. As much as it may sound like an oxymoron, God in his love allows us to choose Hell over Heaven, to choose to live a life of disobedience and selfishness which leads to eternal separation from him.
Dear friends in Christ, this is the essence of our faith, the kerygma. This is what we profess every Sunday at Mass when we recite the Creed together. This is what we believe as Catholic Christians and it is what we are commanded to share with others who have yet to hear the Good News, and with those who refuse to order their lives according to it. It is the Good News that we must each believe and share as baptized Christians if we are to receive God’s merciful gift of eternal life in heaven.
So I ask you today, do you really believe the Good News of the forgiveness of your sins, made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Is your belief simply an intellectual belief or has it caused you to repent and make changes in your life?
Has your belief compelled you to share your faith with others, or do you keep it to yourself because you are embarrassed to speak to others about your Catholic faith?
Let us reflect today whether or not we truly know Christ, whether or not we truly believe in him, not just in what we say, but in what we do. As our 2nd reading today clearly states,
“The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Those who say, “I know him,” but do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.”
Do you believe in the Good News? Do you sincerely try to keep Christ’s commandments or do you modify them in some way to fit your own purposes, to fit your own “truth” rather than God’s objective and absolute truth? Do you accept and follow all of the teachings of his Catholic Church?
How you answer this has real and eternal consequences. I pray that we will all choose Heaven and the path that leads us there. I pray that we will never be embarrassed to share our faith, to admit our failures, and to seek God’s certain mercy and forgiveness by completely turning our lives over to him and ordering them according to his objective truth.
As we are exhorted by St. Peter in his first letter, may we always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks us for a reason for our hope, doing it with gentleness and reverence, keeping our conscience clear.
As Christians we must always be prepared to share the kerygma, the Good News, the essence of our faith. Keep a copy of the Creed handy and use it as your guide. You just never know when God will place someone in your path who needs to hear the wonderful story of salvation. Our Lord is counting on you to give witness to him at these times, both through your words and your example. Don’t disappoint him by letting such an opportunity pass you by.
God bless you.