Collect of the Day:
God Our Father, maker of all, the crown of your creation was the Son of Man, born of a woman, but without beginning; He suffered for us but lives for ever.
May our mortal lives be crowned with the ultimate joy of rising with Him, who is Lord for ever and ever, throughout all ages world without end. Amen.
The First Reading: Acts of the Apostles: 8:5-8, 14-17: They laid hands on them, ands they received the Holy Spirit.
The Second Reading: I Peter: 3:15-18: In the body He was put to death, in the Spirit He was raised to life.
The Gospel: John: 14:15-21: I shall ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate.
St. Peter begins his Epistle with the statement that we should:
“Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an account of the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame.”
In a Post Modern mainly Neo Pagan world, it is inevitable that a Christian will be called upon to explain the Faith that they hold and the Hope by which they live. In this passage St. Peter has certain things to say about Christian apologetics.
Firstly our defence must be reasonable, each Christian must be expected to be able to discuss their Faith intelligently and intelligibly. Knowing what we believe and why. Our Faith must be a living Faith that is born of a firsthand experience and not a secondhand story.
Secondly our defence must be made with the uttermost gentleness. There are many who state their belief systems with an arrogance and belligerence that does more harm for the Church than any good. Christianity must always be presented with LOVE, and the firm knowledge and tolerance of others beliefs to know that it is not given to any one person or group to possess the WHOLE TRUTH. There are a many ways to the top of a mountain as there is people to climb it. People may be loved into taking on the Christian ideal, but never coerced.
Thirdly we must remember that our defence should be carried out and given with reverence. No differences in the world have caused more strife and discord between people than religious debates. No discussions get much more heated than Theological discussions, other than political ones. So we must remember our purpose for talking about the Faith and who we are representing when we take part in any such discussion. That is to say that any discussion we enter into about our Faith and manner of living should be done in a tone which God can hear with joy. Our focus should always be on the accent of LOVE and that of God’s DIVINE MERCY.
Lastly our main defence should be our way of life. St. Peter tells us above, that we should keep our conscience clear so that when we are abused or reviled, our good behaviour in Christ will put our accusers to shame. So therfore we must, as I often state, practice what we preach. A Christian lifestyle should be one that makes it easier for others to believe that God exists.
So as St. Ephrem the Syrian says:
“Be a lamp in brightness, and make the works of darkness cease, so that whenever your doctrine shines, no person may care to heed the works of darkness.”
O LORD, give us, we beseech Thee, in the Name of Jesus Christ thy Son our God, that love which can never cease, that will kindle our lamps but not extinguish them, that they may burn in us and enlighten others. Do Thou, O Christ, our dearest Saviour, Thyself kindle our lamps, that they may evermore shine in Thy Temple, that they may receive unquenchable light from Thee that will enlighten our darkness, and lessen the darkness of the world.
Lord Jesus, we pray Thee give Thy light to our lamps, that in its light the most holy place may be revealed to us in which Thou dwellest as the Eternal Priest, that we may always behold Thee, desire Thee, look upon Thee in love, and long after Thee, for Thy sake. Amen. (St. Columba 521 AD)