Podcasts and video messages are wonderful ways to give a reason for our hope. With the advent of COVID-19 and the restrictions on face-to-face in person communications, the option of live-streaming, podcasts and video messages has increased dramatically. I have found it to be a wonderful way to give a reason for our hope in Christ.
I have experienced several recent examples. One involved a podcast with an eighth grader from St. Gabriel School, Jack Lambert, whose “Inside the Leopards” podcast provides information about the parish community with parishioners, students and school families. On this podcast, I shared my advice for eighth graders as they prepare to be confirmed next month.
Another recent venture was a meeting on WhatsApp with seminarians and other men interested in the priesthood. It involved a lot of typing, but the hour-long interaction that I had with these men was not only fun but also a wonderful way to raise up the reasons for our hope. I am now a fan of WhatsApp!
I also shared messages for the St. Bernadette Knights of Columbus Valentine Day virtual dance, Catholic Charities Mardi Gras fundraising event called “Rouler2021!,” as well as a livestream Mass for our Catholic Schools Week Mass and a video message for the Catholic Education Foundation Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz Innovation Award winners. All of these virtual presentations taped over a few weeks seem like a blur, but each of them offered so many opportunities to give a reason for hope.
The phrase “a reason for hope” comes from my favorite verse in sacred Scripture. In 1 Peter 3:15, St. Peter says, “Venerate the Lord that is Christ in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ready to reply but speak gently and respectfully.” Some have translated “be ready to reply” with “give a defense for” because of the use of the Greek “apologia.” This Greek word does not mean give an apology as if it is an excuse, but rather give a response or make a case for. Give a reason for the hope that is within you as you venerate the Lord that is Christ in your hearts.
There is a relationship between witnessing and believing. One would say that a true believer naturally witnesses. We also might say that the act of witnessing deepens and strengthens our belief. In other words, when we give a reason to others for our hope, we are somehow deepening the gift of hope throughout our lives.
In his Lenten message for this year, Pope Francis reflects on the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. I was struck by his reflection on all three. When he speaks about faith, he connects it to fasting as a way of uncluttering your life so that the truth of Christ is clearer to you and you are able to witness more clearly that gift.
Pope Francis images hope as the living water that Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel according to St. John. Finally, his reflection on love contains a sentence that explains itself: “Love rejoices in seeing others grow.” Faith, hope and love all lead us to the path of giving a reason for our hope.
I like to look for ways to uncover my reason for hope. Ironically, COVID-19 and its restrictions have highlighted platforms and increased audiences, and though live-streaming and podcasts are not new, they are being used in new ways.
I cannot help but believe that the apostle St. Paul with his missionary activities and of course St. Peter, the author of that favorite verse of mine, would make use of these new ways to announce the good news of Jesus Christ and to share the reason for their hope. During the season of Lent, we venerate the Lord that is the Christ in our hearts, and we search the horizon for those who are asking us to give them the reason for our hope.