Defending our Faith

Sunday readings in brief 6 Easter A

Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalms 65(66); 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21

Defending our Faith

Dear friends, today is the sixth Sunday of Easter. Next Sunday will be the Ascension of our Lord into heaven. We derive our theme today “defending our faith” from the first letter of St. Peter which is our second reading in Mass today. Having faith in God is one thing and being able to defend the reason why you have faith is another. Faith in God is not only the belief that God exists but more importantly living a life that demonstrates this belief.

St. Peter tells us that we must be ready and prepared to give an answer to those who ask us the reason for the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Hope is the child of Faith and both give us strength to stand firm for the values taught to us by Christ. However, Peter cautions that while giving the reasons for our faith, we must do so with courtesy, respect, and a clear conscience. We must not disrespect or violate others’ rights because of our faith.

Dear friends, today we have tremendous challenges in matters of faith. Every day we have different faith communities being born each with its own beliefs and tenets. I am always tempted to differ with those who claim that all faith communities converge to one living God. This is because, if that conclusion was to be true, then the argument would be untrue because the evidence demonstrates otherwise.

Faith is not something we can study and acquire but rather a gift of revelation from God to us. However, how to go about the revealed faith requires an intelligent interpretation of the revealed truths. If there is a true revelation, and I believe there is, then it must be universal. However, since we rely on human intellect to interpret metaphysical revelations, there must also be a universal consensus on what is the core values pertaining to it. From there, we may have a diversity of liturgical observations depending on cultural backgrounds. Faith cannot be a monopoly of one particular cultural setup over others. Faith seeks to transform all human cultures and make them godly.

The problem we have in our society today is that matters of faith have been rendered relative. Anyone who claims to have received a revelation can go out there and recruit followers. The worse part of it is that people neither take time to verify the authenticity of the prophets nor do they require them to defend their tenets.

In the first reading, we hear that the first communities of faith had protocols that guided the recruitment of new members. When the Samaritans embrace the faith through the preaching of Philip, their matter was sent to the apostles in Jerusalem who sent Peter and John to confirm them in Spirit.

Every genuine minister of the gospel must be accountable to a higher authority to which he or she has to render an account of his mission activities. In the Catholic Church, for instance, no one goes out on a mission of whatever nature without formally being commissioned by his superiors. This is derived from what Jesus insisted so often, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). Anyone who is accountable only to himself or herself can easily be tempted to act in self-interests or the interests of others who might have an influence on him or her. Therefore, the test of the authenticity of a minister is the authority to which he or she is a subject. Run far away from sole proprietor ministries that have increased tremendously in our neighborhoods otherwise, you will have yourself to blame.

Another thing I would like to call to our attention is the testing of the spirit, which guides the ministries to which we submit. St. John in his first letter urges, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn 4:1). Jesus promised his disciples to send them the Holy Spirit who will teach them the truth but that the world will oppose.

Dear friends, today, because of the spiritual vulnerability of both rich and poor, many false prophets have identified the opportunity and built businesses to satisfy the great thirst that people have for assurance, prosperity, and easy life. This is because of poor upbringing whereby parents focus on the academic and material prosperity of their children and forget their spiritual upbringing. Everyone wants their children to study in the best schools but very few take the time to seek proper spiritual instruction for them, no wonder we have very learned and powerful people falling prey to illiterate and self-proclaimed prophets. Have you taken time to test the authenticity of and the projected spiritual revenue of the ministry to which you subscribe?

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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