God has been working on me in various ways from an early age, many of which I'm only beginning to understand. Though I didn't really know what they were at the time, there are theological pressures from childhood that are still with me today.
This morning, hearing Jesus' proclamation from St. Mark as we do each year on the first Monday of Ordinary Time, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel," I was thinking back to the third or fourth grade at good old Worthington Hooker Elementary. There was some kid who was a self-styled missionary for the faith. I wasn't brought up with any religion or sense of God in particular, so I was unprepared (or perhaps perfectly prepared!) for his questions.
I remember how he asked me if I was "saved."
"From what?" I asked.
Did I believe in the Good News?
What was good about it, and what made it new?
My poor classmate was not yet very advanced or subtle in his own evangelical understanding or strategy, and was a little stumped by my responses. Even though I was asking in innocence and ignorance, my questions are important. We need to have a sense of the content of the good news of our salvation, of what is 'good' and 'new' about the Good News of the Gospel. We must, as Peter tells us, " always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope." (1 Peter 3: 15)