Be ready to explain your hope.

So there’s a lull in a conversation with friends and some- one you know, but not all that well, asks you “Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?” Everything stops doesn’t it?

Catholics especially find it hard to answer this question. “I THINK I have,” might be our answer. Pressed further as to when you accepted Jesus someone might say “Well, I go to mass on Sunday”, “I don’t cheat anybody.” “I give to the United Way.” “Oh I don’t know!”

It’s not through any lack of faith that one is left in confusion. It’s just that most Catholics show our faith in a different way. Taking Holy Communion at mass is probably the premiere moment for Jesus and me in the week. Yes, THERE HE IS, my Lord and Savior! (Chances are, our inquiring friend would not understand this answer) . . . And just before that we turn to each other and say “The Peace of Christ be with you!” and we smile at each other and somehow we feel Jesus is with us.

That’s it. That’s Jesus and me. And is He my Lord and Savior? Of course He is!

However . . . that’s not enough. You see our inquiring friend is on to something very important. They take seriously Jesus’ instruction “to go out to all the world and tell the good news”, “go and make disciples . . . teach them everything I have commanded”, etc.

Faith is a gift that is meant to be shared. Christianity is not just about “Jesus and me”, it’s about Jesus, you and me, all of us together. (Why else would Jesus leave the 99 safe in the meadow to search out the lost sheep?)

So how do we uptight Catholics begin to share our faith? It starts with an attitude of AFFECTION. We have to like our neighbor, to genuinely care how they are, to be happy when they are happy and sad when they are sad. Not that everyone is our best friend, but everyone can count on us to be in their corner. We want goodness to find everyone.

Once we have our neighbor fixed in our hearts as “brother” or “sister” we can speak to them as to a friend — – because that’s what they are.

Next we need to check our memory bank for the times God has popped up in our life. These are moments of joy or sorrow, success or failure, where we cried out to God and He heard us, or a joy beyond all expectation filled our hearts. These are our life’s faith stories, our “God history.” These things I know, not because I read about them, but because they happened to me personally. These are the things that Christ asks me to share with my neighbor when the Holy Spirit moves.

So how do I find my “God history”? It really is up to each person to search and find. But here are a few classic moments that many people have found to contain “something from God”.

++ Strangely, God’s grace comes many times in moments of distress. “Powerlessness” is a particular favorite for God to work with. The times, with nowhere else to turn, we finally call out to God . . . “Help me.” And guess what? Something happens.

++ “Things that overwhelm” is another favorite tool God uses to open our eyes. Moments of great beauty in a thousand different places (the face of a child, a walk with a friend, something said in church, the memory of a loving person, sickness that brings a new vision of life, someone’s word to us that goes deep, etc.)

++ Where there is love there is God (1 Jn. 4:7). Any moment of love whether small or large is a golden thread that leads directly to the heart of God. God IS love. (A love beyond all measure. Think “giving” without counting the cost – – Christ on the cross). Have you witnessed this kind of love? Then God has come to you!

God will give you a time to share your confidence in His grace. Because you’ve experienced it.

Be kind this week.

Fr. Tim