Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21.

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.

So many commentaries on the readings this weekend focus on the Gospel of John and the promise of the Advocate by Jesus. This certainly preaches; but with Pentecost Sunday coming in two weeks there may be a danger of shooting much of your Pentecost ammunition prematurely.

Perhaps this is why my eye has been pulled toward the above piece of scripture from the second reading this weekend from the First Letter of Peter. Further, the theme of Hope is so appropriate during these last two weeks of the Easter season.

Although the original context of this reading is different than today -- at least for middle-America -- the Word of God continues to communicate an important message regarding hope. Peter addressed those who faced persecution for their faith.

We may not face such persecution in our lives at this time; however we may very well face that which threatens our hope each day; namely Presumption and Despair.

It is the infestation of presumption and despair which may put us in states of being that would hardly prompt anyone to ever ask us why we are so hopeful. In short, presumption and despair kills hope.

On the other hand, it is the joy born from eternal hope -- the hope promised in the Easter event -- that one radiates in ordinary, day-to-day living that prompts others to conversion, to interest in faith in God, to possibilities of a new start, a new beginning.

It is not the door-to-door evangelizing tactics that other denominations or faiths use that find lasting success in their power to convert; rather, the most effective tool for conversion is an individual who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, brims over with joy, with life, with generosity and most of all with hope. This individual is observed by another individual who longs to be filled with such a Spirit. God works through the faithful to draw others to Him by bestowing His Grace which radiates hope.

One can reflect on the Words of Peter and one can learn to respond with gentleness and reverence when questioned about this hope that radiates life.

As aforementioned, presumption and despair kills hope. In this Easter Season the presumption that we can save ourselves from sin with our own efforts rather than by the Grace of God is what kills hope. What we need is the assistance of God through his grace and our voluntary cooperation.

Despair can cause just as much destruction to hope. One feels that one is so mired in the mud of sin that one feels helpless. One is discouraged. One forgets that all things are possible with God. One falls into despair.

It is humility that creates a bridge between presumption and hope. It is the love of others powered by the Holy Spirit that creates a bridge between despair and hope.

This may be a good opportunity this Sunday to ask where we stand in the scheme of things. Are we so filled with Hope that we have the capacity to change the lives of others simply by living as Easter people in our ordinary lives? Are we beacons of hope? Do people look at our lives and say -- I want what he has. I want what she has. I want that kind of faith, that kind of love, that kind of life, that kind of hope.

Or, do we find ourselves in need of hope? Are we paralyzed by presumption or perhaps by fear?

People of hope. People of presumption. People of despair. Where do we stand? And what do we need to do to keep hope, or to find hope?

The balance of humility, love, faith and hope keep us healthy and fight the temptations to be presumptuous and despairing.

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