Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 6-2-22

Homily for the 7th Week of Easter, Thursday, 6-2-22, Year C
Readings: Acts 22:30;23:6-11; Psalm 16:1-2a,5,7-8,9-10,11; Gospel Jn 17:20-26
Optional Memorial: Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs
Theme: Courage and Strength

“My concern is not whether God is on my side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” – Abraham Lincoln.

It takes courage and strength to stand up for what you believe in the face of mounting opposition. There will be many who will give in or succumb to the pressure or be easily swayed by a convincing argument from the other side. Many of those who fail to follow through most likely never really believed in their cause or really understood what it was they were fighting for in the first place.

How many times in history have we seen a few people who lack resources and training overcome a larger contingent of people with more resources and training because they were strongly convicted and believed fully in their cause. The larger opposition failed because their people were not convinced of their goals or cause and were fighting because of duty or requirement. Their hearts were never really in the fight to begin with.

When we decide to stand up for a cause we first must convince ourselves that the cause is right, just, and morally in line with our beliefs. We must measure this cause against a standard that is true and good. Finally, when our cause passes these tests, we must be fully behind it before battle. If any of these tests point out flaws and expose weaknesses, we need to think twice before shouting it out on the roof tops.

St. Paul went through this process at his conversion. As a Pharisee, he was convinced that the Jewish Laws were all that mattered. He failed to test this legal cause against righteousness, justice, and a morality that cares for the human person rather than the law. Jesus set him straight on the way to Damascus pointing out St. Paul’s new cause that is just, right, and moral in line with caring for his neighbors, and is measured against the true and good standard of Christ Himself.

With this new cause and conviction, St. Paul lived out his life with courage and strength to stand up to kings, armies, and principalities and eventually to give his life for it. He did not shrink away in proclaiming Jesus as Messiah even in the face of death because he knew the truth and was convinced of it. Saints Marcellinus and Peter were martyred in 303 for their courage in proclaiming Christ’s cause.

Jesus prays to the Father in today’s Gospel for unity among His disciples so that they remain together and convinced of their cause to go forth and proclaim Him to the world. He prays that they remain fully committed to the cause and that they understand it is right, just, and morally true. He prays that the Father will strengthen them in their belief that this cause is measured against the standard of truth and love, which is God Himself. Most of all, that this cause is not an external one, but internal to their souls, and that it is God Himself as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that live within them forever.

We can take a cue from St. Paul on how to proclaim, with courage and strength, what is good and right in Christ’s Gospel message. We can also know that Jesus prayed for us to be in union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that they are part of our very being of which They guard every moment of our lives. Our greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right!

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL