My wife proclaimed the second reading at Mass this morning, including this little portion that immediately struck my ears:
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 … (1 Peter 3:15b-16a)
Reverence for God, I thought, or reverence for the inquirer?
Perhaps some of us have enough to do to be prepared to give an explanation for Christian hope. I know that in my distracted life, it’s hard to be always ready, especially a few minutes before Mass. The other week, a parishioner pestered me with a few questions shortly before the entrance song. Good questions, to be sure. Questions that might go down well over a beer or a coffee. But I wasn’t ready to give my reasons for hope.
My friend came back to me after Mass and apologized for distracting me. He might not have done that if I had bitten his head off.
I haven’t consulted the Scripture scholars on this one, but I’d like to think that reverence for the inquirer is one of the best placements for giving honor to something of the faith.