We hear in the proclamation of the gospel today: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.”
As we look towards Pentecost, awaiting the promised Spirit and the gifts that God’s Holy Spirit bestows, we wonder what the world could look like. Imagine the world, today’s world, if leadership—from heads of household to president, prime minister, and pope—were leading with “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, and the spirit of knowledge and reverence…the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence” (Rite of Confirmation). Indeed all of the above would claim to be doing his or her best so as to lead and shepherd exercising such God-given skills and talents, but, alas, this side of heaven, there remains the human condition with all its weakness and frailty. This is no cause to lose hope, however, because we were “sealed” with the gift of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit is always there waiting to be retrieved. [I almost wrote, “retrieved and repurposed,” but it is not the Spirit that needs repurposing, is it? It is our very self that often needs to be repurposed—redirected.]Peter, with his occasional arrogance and lying, well understands the dynamic of needing to “repurpose.” In today’s passage from his own writing we can perceive his reliance once again on the Holy Spirit as he instructs those first to be called “Christian,”—and instructs us—”Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for your hope” [and note that he adds], “but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear ….” In other words, check your “attitude” at the door! Obviously a person with a soul sanctified in Christ and a heart filled with hope is a person who is attractive, not repulsive—a person ready to evangelize!
Truly, in today’s readings we are being duped and tricked into, well, living a much better, more peace-filled, more satisfying—more purpose driven—life. We might even say that we are being “brain washed” in a most acceptable way, to keeping Jesus’ command to put love of God and neighbor on an equal plane, and to love one another as he loved us. But like the prophet Jeremiah we say that “I was duped—and I let myself be duped,” because something tells us that is going to be good for us—it is going to redeem and save us. We allow ourselves to surrender to that which we know can save our families, our country, our world, and yes, even our Church! After all, we have no hope if our souls are not constantly being sanctified in Christ along life’s journey—on the path “to the throne of God in Exultation.” By all means, BRING IT ON!