Credible Witnesses

March 22, 2016  •   Leisa Anslinger

For Sunday, March 27, 2016, Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Detail from The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection by Burnand.

Many years ago, there was a popular poster that read, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

In today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of the powerful witness of Peter to a group of Gentiles. They had been gathered by Cornelius, following a vision in which he was told to summon Peter. Peter begins by telling the story of Jesus, including that he was among those who witnessed what he did, that he witnessed Jesus after the Resurrection, that the prophets bear witness to Christ.

What does it mean to be a witness to the risen Lord in our time? What situations call for us to witness? What difference does the Resurrection make in our everyday lives?

On the surface, we might only think of witnessing as something that involves preaching or teaching, such as the priest during the homily, or a catechist who teaches religious education or leads the RCIA. We might even be a little hesitant to think about ourselves as witnesses, thinking of those who preach on street corners or who are missionaries in foreign lands. Especially when we take into consideration that those missionaries sometimes face persecution and martyrdom, like the Missionary Sisters of Charity who were killed earlier this month, we wonder if we are up to answering the call to witness to Christ!

While priests and catechists and missionaries are all witnesses, there are many other ways to witness to Christ. We know this in our hearts, but perhaps do not always reflect on the call to witness in our own lives, day-to-day, week-to-week, year-to-year. The truth is, most of us will not be called to put our lives physically on the line as a witness to Christ. Many of us may rarely be asked to speak to our faith in formal ways. And while some do preach or teach, the rest of us are called to witness in the course of our lives at home, in our workplace, parish, country, and world, through our actions, attitudes, and demeanor. Many situations in our time call for us to witness: genocide in the Middle East; immigration; human trafficking; and participation in the election process to name only a few.

Pope Francis points to this living witness: “Often today there is an attitude of indifference toward the faith which regards it as irrelevant for human life. The New Evangelization means reawakening the life of faith in the minds and hearts of our contemporaries. Faith is a gift of God; however, it is important that we Christians demonstrate that we live faith in a concrete way, through love, harmony, joy, suffering, because this gives rise to questions, as those that were raised at the beginning of the Church’s journey: Why do they live that way? What urges them on? These are questions which lead straight to the heart of evangelization, to the witness of faith and charity. What we especially need in these times are credible witnesses who make the Gospel visible by their lives as well as by their words, and who reawaken the attraction for Jesus Christ, for the beauty of God” (October 14, 2013).

Why do we live this way? Are we “credible witnesses” who make God’s love known? As we celebrate Easter Sunday, let us take to heart the mystery of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Not only does Jesus’ resurrection show us the depths of God’s love; we are also drawn into this mystery through our baptism, in such a way that Christ’s life and light overcome the darkness, doubt, despair, and death in our human life. Death does not have the last word! This is what we are called to share as Christian witnesses! The everyday stuff of life is transformed through Christ. While we may at times lose sight of this, Easter is an annual immersion into the fullness of this mystery.

Many of us will participate in the great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. We will witness adults and children who are initiated into Christian life and love. With them, we will renounce Satan and reaffirm our belief in Christ, and we will renew our own baptism. Throughout the Easter season, we will be sprinkled with the waters of baptism, showering us in order that we might take to heart Christ’s love and our call to witness to that love with the world through the ways in which we live our lives.

Christ is risen! May we live as witnesses to the Resurrection through all that we are and do, sharing the life and love of the risen One.

Leisa Anslinger

PRAYER

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever

—Easter Prayer of St. Hippolytus of Rome.

NOTICES

PROVISIONAL SCHEDULE FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY
A draft of the schedule for Pope Francis’ trip to Poland from July 27 to 31 for the 31st World Youth Day was presented in Krakow on Saturday. The provisional schedule may be viewed at http://www.news.va/en/news/wyd-krakow-2016-draft-schedule-released.

MOTHER TERESA CANONIZATION DATE ANNOUNCED
The Holy Father announced the upcoming canonization of five new saints, including Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata (née Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu), whose work among the “poorest of the poor” won her worldwide acclaim. Hundreds of Missionaries of Charity, members of the religious order founded by Mother Teresa, are expected to be in Rome for her canonization, set for September 4, 2016.

EVERYDAY STEWARDSHIP NOW AVAILABLE IN SPANISH
La corresponsabilidad diaria: reflexiones para el viaje, by Tracy Earl Welliver, is packed full of practical examples and inspiring insights; each of these Everyday Stewardship reflections will encourage you to look more closely for God in all the ordinary moments of your life. Both English and Spanish copies of the book are now available for purchase at www.4LPi.com/store/stewardshipresources.

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