Homily for Friday of the 6th Week of Easter
“Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.”
These are the words that the Lord offered to Paul in our First Reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles. They were meant to be an encouragement for him because, as we heard in our reading from yesterday, the situation in Corinth was making preaching the Gospel more difficult with each passing day.
The persecution of the Jews and the newly converted Christians in that city had already started. We can imagine how many of those individuals felt during that time. They likely felt abandoned by God, wondering why He would allow this to happen to them after they had given everything to Him. They were likely questioning whether it was all really worth it in the end. They were in need of someone to continue to encourage them and to call them to perseverance in the face of hardship. That is the same message that the Lord offers us today.
As I have been stating more and more in recent days, being a Christian in today’s world is definitely not something that is easy. I’m especially worried for our young people. There are so many voices that are out there that are trying to lead us further away from God and it can be frightening. Those of us who preach the Gospel, who seek to tell others about Jesus, are often times looked down upon by members of our families, some of our friends, or total strangers. We are told that we are unintelligent for believing in dogmas and truths that are rooted in “ancient times.” The world is telling us to keep our thoughts and beliefs to ourselves and stop forcing our ideologies onto others. Yet, as Christians, we know that we can’t do that. Failing to proclaim the Gospel, neglecting to call others to conversion, lacking the courage to tell others about Jesus would mean that we failed at our mission as disciples of the Lord. And that is not an option.
We must go out and tell the world about Jesus. We must go out and show the love of God to those around us. We must go out and share the Good News that Jesus saves. It’s what our world so desperately needs. So today, allow these words of the Lord to Paul become the words that the Lord speaks to us: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking. Do not be silent. I am with you.” Are we going to embrace that mission or will we allow the world to convince us to neglect that aspect of discipleship? The choice is up to you.
Painting: Apostle Paul Preaching on the Ruins, Giovanni Paolo Pannini. Public Domain under Wikicommons.