Always Be Ready
It is so easy, in our world today, to become discouraged and lose hope. Recently, I read some words Pope Benedict XVI said to a group of priests that touched my heart, lent encouragement to my soul and reversed any ‘down – dreary’ attitude I had.
Some of his words I would like to share with you:
Always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you
“We live in a state of perpetual meeting, similar to that of the early Church, where the first Christians experienced the same situation. Christians were a very small minority, a mustard seed that began to grow, surrounded by different religions and living conditions.
“Therefore, we must learn from the experience of the first Christians. St. Peter in his first letter, in the third chapter, said: ‘Always be ready to give an account of the hope that is within you.’
“In this way, he formulated for the average person at that time, for the normal Christian, the necessity to combine proclamation and dialogue.
“He did not say formally: ‘Proclaim the Gospel to everyone.’ He said: ‘You must be able, ready, to give an account of the hope that is within you.'”
The Pope called this the “necessary synthesis” between dialogue and proclamation.
“In the first place we must have within us the reason for our hope,” he affirmed. “We must be people who live faith and think about faith and know it interiorly. In this way faith becomes reason; it becomes reasonable.”
“Meditation on the Gospel and its proclamation, the homily, catechesis, rendering others capable of understanding the faith, these are all fundamental elements in this relationship between dialogue and proclamation.”
The Holy Father further emphasized the necessity of recognizing all people as neighbors. He urged living “love of our neighbor as an expression of our faith.”
“I think,” he explained, “that this is already in itself a strong witness and a form of proclamation — to live with others this love of neighbor, recognizing in them our neighbor, so that they can see: This ‘love of neighbor’ is for me.”
“If this happens, we can more easily show them the root of our behavior, which is that this love of neighbor is an expression of our faith,” the Pontiff said. “In dialogue we cannot move immediately to the great mysteries of the faith.”
“Something practical and realizable, necessary, is above all to look for understanding about life’s values, expressed in the Ten Commandments, summarized in love of God and neighbor, and therefore understandable in other areas of life.”
The key, he concluded, is a “humble and patient proclamation, that waits, but that incarnates living our lives according to a conscience illuminated by God.”