6th Sunday of Easter (May 5, 2013)
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Ps 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Rev 21:10-14, 22-23
This weekend at St. Andrew’s we are honoring the graduating high school seniors. They have worked very hard to get where they are and it is only fitting to acknowledge their achievement. I’m sure this is also a time for the parents of these students to be a little anxious about their child moving out to start a new job or going off to college. The parents may have already started asking themselves questions like…will my child make good choices on their own, will they eat well or just live off of pizza and junk food, what about the parties where alcohol or drugs are present, do they even know how to wash their own clothes and OF COURSE… will they stay strong in their faith and go to church without anyone being there to drag them out of bed?
That last question about going to church made me think back to my freshman year of college. First understand I was not Catholic then, did not have a strong faith and therefore did not go to church hardly at all my freshman year. I was, however, dating a Catholic girl at the time. During Lent I would often suggest that we go out to grab a cheeseburger on Fridays just to see if she remembered that she wasn’t supposed to be eating meat since it was a Friday of Lent. If she forgot, I would conveniently wait until she had a mouth full of her delicious, juicy cheeseburger before asking her, “So, how’s that MEAT taste on this beautiful Friday of Lent?” Hey, don’t judge me…it was fun!! And yes I’ve been to confession since then and even ended up marrying that girl (I love you honey!). Funny that I joined the Catholic Church about 3 years later and eventually became a Catholic Deacon. So you see, there is hope for anyone!
Another time that sticks out in my mind from that same year was when my roommate and I were sitting in our dorm room working on homework while our door was open. Two guys walked in, introduced themselves and we started having some harmless small talk. They said they were out trying to meet some of the other freshman and seemed nice enough. Then they broke out a pamphlet and asked me if I had accepted Jesus into my life yet. Queue the awkward silence as I tried to think of an answer to give them so they would leave and I could get back to my studies. Just so you know, that answer doesn’t exist. I knew if I said no, they would try to sell me on their version of Christianity. I also knew if I said yes, they would try to convert me to their version of Christianity. So I gave the typical, “Welllll, yea…of course I know Jesus” answer. I didn’t think telling the “trick a Catholic into eating a cheeseburger on a Friday during Lent” story was appropriate, but thankfully, I suddenly “remembered” that I had to leave to go to my next class. So I excused myself and left my roommate to deal with them. That was the last time we left the dorm room door open.
In a sense, these things also happened back in the early church. We hear about such an event in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. A portion of the Christian converts came from a Jewish background while some came from a Gentile, or non-Jewish background. Some with the Jewish roots were trying to sell their version of Christianity to the Gentile converts. They were claiming that the Mosaic practice of circumcision still must be followed if you were a “real Christian” and therefore saved. So representatives went to the Apostles and elders and asked them to settle the debate. The Apostles listened, prayed and allowed the Holy Spirit to guide them to settle the matter.
That is my advice to the graduating seniors, their parents and actually everyone who is ever faced with a situation in need of some assistance and guidance or if someone confronts you about your faith. We all too often forget to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance or to ask one of our elders for suggestions to help us. This is especially important for our young Catholics who are leaving the nest for the first time as they graduate from High School very soon. Temptations are out there…we can’t change that. Someone with a big juicy cheeseburger on a Friday of Lent is just waiting for you to let your guard down. Plus there will always be someone out there trying to tell you that your faith is wrong or unimportant. Hopefully this thought won’t completely freak everyone out and make you want to become a hermit, never leaving your house again. But if it does intimidate you…
“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid!”
We hear in the Gospel of John that our Father in heaven has sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us. He is the keeper of peace and the source of knowledge. However, we need to constantly pray to Him and ask for His guidance. We also need to follow His teachings. Jesus Himself tells us, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my word.” So when in doubt, turn to God’s Word and the Church teachings in a state of prayer to guide you in life. We need to do this because God calls us to be better and not worry about following the latest trends of the world just to be fashionable. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever make mistakes in life. When we fall, God calls us to get back up, dust ourselves, repent and try again. We need to learn from our mistakes and always strive to live better today compared to yesterday.
So open yourselves up and allow the peace of the Holy Spirit to run through your veins so that He will strengthen you in your time of need to do what is good and right…