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What Is a Witness?
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, you promise that your Spirit will speak through me at the moments when I testify on your behalf. Help me to grow in faith and to hear your promptings, so that I might be a better witness to your healing love. Help me to grow in the courage of faith, knowing that whatever is endured for your sake has eternal value. Amen.
- Sheep Among Wolves: Jesus was very clear in speaking with his disciples: the work ahead of them would not be easy, nor would everyone welcome them with open arms. In fact, there were those who would use the legal system and other legitimate authorities in a twisted or unjust way, so as to punish those who witnessed to the faith. As Christians, we should expect some level of persecution when we’re trying to extend the Kingdom of God. There are several contemporary examples of legal protests against Christians standing up for the Gospel in the public square. We know, however, that by prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be given the grace to become “as shrewd as serpents” to continue the work of evangelization.
- Do Not Worry: Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus tells us not to be afraid, to trust, not to worry. Yet, for many, doubts persist. So often we turn to what the world offers to calm our anxieties. A sure cure for worldly anxieties is to remember that the Lord does not abandon his faithful ones. The Holy Spirit gives us the right words in times of trial. “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” (St. Gerard Majella).
- Enduring to the End: Jesus does not want our efforts at evangelization, however narrow we think they may be, to be a one-off. He calls us to make our entire life a positive witness to the Gospel. We are invited to look for opportunities, however small, in our daily lives to bear witness to the Good News. “What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend to Heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting life is offered; the Lord promises his Kingdom” (St. Cyprian of Carthage).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I know I sometimes allow even the smallest discomfort to deter me from being a witness to your love. Help me to overcome my timidity and fear of rejection to proclaim your word through whatever trials you choose for me. Instill in me the courage to listen to your truth and the courage to speak it, even to those who do not want to hear your words. May I always persevere, for your glory.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I resolve to bear witness to your truth wherever I go. Knowing that the best way to show your love is first to receive it, I resolve to take every opportunity to receive you in the Blessed Sacrament and to spend time in prayer, bathed in your light and love.
For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1816: “The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: ‘All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.’ Service of witness and faith are necessary for salvation: ‘So everyone who acknowledges me before me, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in Heaven.’”
Dorothy Warner is a writer living in the Washington, D.C., area. When not engaged in writing, artisanal baking, volunteering, or gardening, she can be found working for a technology company or spending time with her husband and family, and all their pets.