1. evidence; proof: the memorial service was witness to the wide circle of his interest.• used to refer to confirmation or evidence given by signature, under oath, or otherwise: in witness thereof, the parties sign this document.• open profession of one's religious faith through words or actions: faithful Christian witness.
At some point in middle school, I stumbled upon Christian music and hit upon the band dcTalk. One of their albums, Jesus Freak, had an interlude that said, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the doors and deny Him by their lifestyles. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
I walked out of Mass on Easter Sunday and an event triggered immense anger in my heart. In a moment of weakness, I failed to live out my Christian call to love and forgive. Had my action been toward a person in search of Jesus, they would not have found Him in me. But, like anyone with anger, I felt vindicated, righteous, justified. I had a right to be angry. Like the burial cloth, though, I remained in the tomb this past Easter morning.
Unbelievable. The holiest of days, the answer to sin, death and suffering, the reason that joy should be our North Star, the most important event in history and I walk out of the door of the Church and deny Him by my lifestyle.
Perhaps it is why submarine Catholics only break the surface of the Church twice a year – people like me who fail, all the time, to live out our glorious call as Christians. It must be rather uninspiring.
But, God's not finished with me yet. I'd like to think that despite this slip, I didn't remain in the tomb long that morning. I'd like to think that instead of characters like Judas and Pilate who's stories, respectively, end with the Crucifixion, is continuing past Jesus's death. I left the tomb, realizing that Jesus doesn't deal with death (He conquers it), and went in search of Him. I'd like to think that my walk with Him is continuing.
I'd like to think that even though I'm far from perfect, that I am a disciple and as such, a witness of the power, majesty, goodness, love, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, peace, hope and joy found in Jesus. Life is difficult and messy and confusing and frustrating, but it is also good. Incredibly good.
Our lives as Christians should resemble and reflect this goodness.
We should live as witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Consider the power of witnesses. The recommendation about a book or movie from a trusted friend who has read or seen the suggested content makes us more likely to partake in it as well. Courts depend on witnesses to argue cases. Weight loss success stories, effective workout regimes, organizational strategies all receive more credence when witnesses profess to their effectiveness.
The same is true of our faith.
Witnesses have immense power.
Today we mark a historic day in the Church: two canonizations on the same day, two former popes, two modern day saints. Our current Pope who is courageously leading the Church in refreshing ways and a former Pope who humbly retired concelebrating. Four total witnesses to the power, majesty, might, mercy and goodness of Christ.
Our Sunday Mass readings also proclaim the clout of witnesses. The early Church was marked by community gatherings, moments of teaching, faith sharing, and witnessing to each other and those still yet to experience the goodness of the Lord:
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2: 46 -47).
St. Peter writes about this same genuineness of faith:
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter1: 6 – 9).
Our Gospel reading speaks the famous story of “doubting Thomas”. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe. Blessed are those who have witnessed to others about the glory of God so that others, too, may believe.
Keep creating me and forming me, Lord. May I be deemed worthy to be called a witness.
I know you're not finished with me yet...