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Testimony of Life
Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him.
Opening Prayer: Jesus, sometimes it is easy to get caught up in ideas, to focus so much on learning about you, that I forget to take the time to know you. Jesus, I want to know you and be known by you. In this prayer time, help me open my heart to you and grow in my faith, hope, and love.
- Who is This Jesus?: Herod was curious. He reasoned for himself that those who claimed “John has been raised from the dead” were wrong, saying to himself, “John I beheaded…” But who, then, was Jesus? There was no consensus. Today, there is still a diversity of belief about who Jesus is. While many acknowledge that he is a real historical figure, they refuse to believe he is Our Lord and Savior. They may call him a great teacher or even a prophet but draw the line at saying he is God. Others profess to believe in Jesus, but then are reluctant to let that belief change their lives. We are most wise to listen to and obey Jesus’ command: “But seek first the Kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).
- Perplexed by Variety: While there are many things that Catholics and Protestants can agree on, the unfortunate truth is that Christianity is divided, and those who are seeking the Lord can be greatly perplexed as they encounter the wide diversity of denominations that exist. Christian unity matters. “Restoration of unity among Christians is one of the main concerns of the Church… and this task is for all of us. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility. Indeed, everybody can make some contribution, however small it may seem, and all are called to that interior conversion which is the essential condition for ecumenism” (St. John Paul II, May 30, 1982). How can we, as Christ’s followers, build up our Catholic communities in unity and love?
- To See Him: Where does one see Christ? Before we go to church or any kind of Christian gathering, we have the opportunity to see God in nature. We also have the opportunity to see Christ in the lives of the Christians we know. As Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The lives of the saints and martyrs demonstrate a singular beauty which fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived in fullness speaks without words. We need men and women whose lives are eloquent, and who know how to proclaim the Gospel with clarity and courage, with transparency of action, and with the joyful passion of charity” (Benedict XVI, October 25, 2012). Our own witness of Christ can also be powerful. In another reflection Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “…for me not only a few great saints whom I love and whom I know well are ‘signposts,’ but precisely also the simple saints, that is, the good people I see in my life who will never be canonized. They are ordinary people, so to speak, without visible heroism but in their everyday goodness I see the truth of faith. This goodness, which they have developed in the faith of the Church, is for me the most reliable apology of Christianity and the sign of where the truth lies” (Pope Benedict XVI, April 13, 2011). May we be “signposts” for Christ in our world!
Conversing with Christ: My God, I thank you for the gift of the Church. Through Holy Mother Church, we can know what it means to follow you faithfully. Thank you for the great cloud of witness, the saints, who have gone before us to show that it is possible to live that to which we are called. Lord, I ask for the grace to be ever more faithfully configured to you so that I can be a light to the world.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will watch for moments in which I see Christ in others.
For Further Reflection: Read the General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI on Holiness (April 13, 2011).
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.