Why live? Why laugh? Why love? Why hope?  We need to be ready to explain our living, our laughing, our loving and our hoping. Why? Because we are called to do so.  Today’s Second Reading from the first letter of Saint Peter says: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”  We can’t expect others to be hopeful if we can’t give them a reason to hope, so we have to be able to identify our reasons for hope. Now, let me say that while all of us here may well be in many different places on the “hope spectrum,” I would argue that no one in here is hopeless. Some of us are undoubtedly going through very difficult times and facing very difficult circumstances and may feel like they are desperately searching for hope; but searching for hope is indeed a sign of hope.  Maybe you are here precisely because you are searching for hope, you are hoping for hope. If you are hoping for hope, you do have hope. And you can become more hopeful and you can even convey your hope to others once you can identify your reasons for hope. But how do we do that? Well, Saint Peter gives us some wonderful clues. He says, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.”  Folks, it always starts there. If Christ is not Lord of our hearts the troubles that we are bound to face will multiply and be compounded, but if He is Lord of our hearts, then we will always have hope and our crosses will be less and they will be more manageable. Saint Peter goes on to say that we must keep our consciences clear so that “when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.”  If Christ is Lord of our hearts and we keep our consciences clear we do indeed provide ourselves with a firm basis for hope and we become examples of hope for others. So basically, if we do what we are supposed to do, we have a basis for hope. And this leads us directly to the Gospel in which Jesus says “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” For me, a very practical but stubborn Irishman, the converse of that statement is also true; if you keep His commandments, you will love Him.  Jesus goes on to say that if we keep His commandments, He will ask the Father, and the Father will send us the Spirit, who is of course, our truth and our hope.  So, to sum up today’s message, in order to receive the Spirit who is Hope, we must strive to make Jesus the Lord of our hearts and keep our consciences clear by loving Him through keeping His commandments. My guess is that although some of us may not have been able to articulate it in this way before now, that this is at least part of the reason why many of us came to Church today. But now we can say it and share it with others as a means of explaining our reasons for hope. And you know what we can not only share it with them; we can invite them to come to Church with us!

AuthorCathy Remick