Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.
For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that he might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
he was brought to life in the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:15-18
(second reading from mass today.)
When I read this passage in church this morning, it reminded me of a favorite quote of mine: “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.” (attributed to St.Francis) I also thought of another favorite one: “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry.” (Padre Pio) Worry sucks the joy right out of us!
We are a resurrection people – a people of joy. If we trust in God and depend on Him for everything like a small child depends on a parent, then we will have no reason to fret. (easier said than done, I know!) People will see that God is truly our joy – and want to know our secret! This opens the door for sharing the good news.
In general, I don’t think that people listen much to those who stand on the street corners, waving a bible and shouting doomsday prophecies. I’m not saying that no one has ever been converted this way. I just think that it’s generally ineffective. We can win souls for Christ by kindness, compassion, trying to lead a holy life, persevering in prayer, making sacrifices and even silent witness. Let me explain what I mean by “silent witness.”
Things like pro-life bumper stickers, garden flags with scripture verses and even religious jewelry can get someone’s attention. Believe it or not, my wearing religious medals and jewelry have sparked questions from other people on at least two occasions. Their questions opened the door for me to be a witness about God’s goodness in my life, without being pushy. Sometimes, I feel lazy, and get ready to leave the house without my religious necklace or bracelet, then go back to get one, just in case!
We must live the joy Christ gives us fully , and be ready to give reason for our hope to anyone who questions us. We must also do so with gentleness and reverence toward those we encounter, remembering that we are all God’s beloved children – (even the rude cashier or the person who cuts us off in traffic!) Have a blessed Sunday!