Called To Bear Witness
Witness is a word gone viral in our current social imagination-a cursory view of social media will confirm this claim. The New Testament in its original Greek text refers to maturia-witness, and all its various iteration, about 200 times. It is a word that describes personal response to God's revelation of Himself to us. In this Sunday's liturgy of the word, Isaiah's second servant song bears witness to God's universal call, "I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Is.49:6). Paul is called to bear witness to Christ Jesus among the gentiles so that everywhere people may "call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours" (1 Cor. 1: 3). John testifies to the presence of "the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world...the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit,...the son of God" (John 1: 29, 34). These witnesses testify to the person of Jesus Christ as the savior of all people.
Christian witness testifies to the person of Jesus Christ and his Gospel as the definitive truth. A witness in the court of law testifies to a claim in support or condemnation of a person on trial but a Christian witness, by words and deeds and in the power of the Holy Spirit and God's grace, reveals the person of Jesus to the world as a divine person who came to save it from slavery to sin and Satan. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb of God, the son of God sent to bring us everlasting peace and joy. Christians are called to follow Jesus Christ by the virtue of their baptism, and to share their encounter with this mystery of faith with others.
As the Psalmist declares, "Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will" (Ps. 72), we too are called to declare to the world that Jesus is the Son of God, the lamb of God who by his sacrifice saved all people, including those who deny or ignore him. That is the will of God for all Christians. As Christians sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, our personal testimony to transformation through our encounter with Jesus is vital to the work of evangelization- the reason for which the church exist. As the church teaches us, "The duty of Christians to take part in the life of the Church impels them to act as witnesses of the Gospel and of the obligations that flow from it" (CCC 2472). A Christian witnesses to Jesus in words and deeds. In what practical ways do you witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ you encounter often in the Eucharist and the Divine Word?
In Christ, the Lamb of God,
Fr. Bernard Oniwe, OP