St. Peter says to “be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15) but sometimes it seems the hope can get lost in a parade of rules. I asked my students what is the cause of our hope and after throwing out several answers, someone finally said the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was the source of our hope.
“Do you feel like the Good News is good?”
They paused for a moment, almost seeming to sense there was a trick question they needed to skirt.
“Yes,” one student said.
This simple question seemed difficult for them. Someone replied, “Because it seemed like the right answer.” In fact, when I asked a later question (“Why does the Good News not seem good?”) they were able to respond with more answers.
When I go into the prison, so many of the men that come to the Catholic bible study or Mass are able to clearly point to their lives and say, “When I do my own will, I am not free.” It is a profound gift that the men in prison have that I think so many outside prison lack. The doctor, the teacher, the student, the politician, the bus driver, the plumber, the painter, the whatever can look like they have it together because they have some worldly success and their struggles might not be so apparent. The reality, however, is that we are all in great need of being saved. This crashes into the truth that the Good News is profoundly good, but it does require an acknowledgement that I cannot do it on my own.
To follow Jesus requires genuine self-sacrifice but that is true of every authentically good relationship we enter into. But following the Lord yields a joy greater than anything else we can imagine. So after speaking to the students about how they question if the Gospel is good, I spent time the next day showing them a video of living testimony of the joy and the goodness of the Gospel. Embracing the Gospel and living it fully made a difference in many lives and it was portrayed with a firm acknowledgement that to do the Lord’s will, even when it is painful, helps to bring about tremendous joy.
Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is certainly a day to remember the unborn and to mourn for those who will never live outside the womb, for the most vulnerable who are sacrificed out of a sense of convenience. Yet it also a day to say yes to the Lord when so many are saying a determined no. How can the Lord use you to bring about a greater respect for the human person, a deeper knowledge of the goodness found within each person from the womb to the hospice center and everywhere in between?
May our desire to follow the Lord reveal to everyone the great good of saying yes instead of only repeating the evil found in saying no. It means acknowledging the good found in the mothers and fathers, in their friends and family, in the doctors and nurses, in all who are connected to abortion in any way. Without compromising anything, let us reveal the face of Christ to those who are uncertain of their own or others’ worth or dignity. And let us find Christ in them, too. This is the radical gift of the Gospel—and it is good beyond belief.