In our first reading today, we hear St. Peter preach to the crowds that have witnessed his miraculous healing of a cripple and have now come to hear him. We hear how, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac…the God of our ancestors” has “raised [Jesus] from the dead.” Peter continues, “To this we are all witnesses.” What does it mean to be a witness? Certainly the Saints were witnesses, but do we need to don habits in order to be good witnesses to the faith?
The short answer is no, and we hear some suggestions of ways to be witnesses from our other readings. In the Psalm for today we hear a very basic, yet oft forgotten tactic: “When you are disturbed, do not sin.” This may seem simple, and yet how often do we find ourselves frustrated or tired and, with our defenses weakened, give in to sin? Instead of this, I encourage you, when you are tired or frustrated, to take a moment, breathe deeply, and ask God for the grace of self-control. Though this may seem trivial, and perhaps even comical, I believe that if you try it once or twice, you will find a greater sense of peace in difficult situations.
In our second reading for today, St. John offers another way that can give witness to our faith. He writes, “Now by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we obey His commandments.” For those of you unfamiliar with the Ten Commandments, I recommend a review of them, as they truly set forth a good way to lead one’s life. For those of you who, like me, have difficulty recalling the Ten at any given moment, well, Jesus summarized them in the Gospels: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…and love your neighbor as yourself.” This condensed form is easier to remember and gives a good account of how we are to live as Catholics.
Finally, in today’s Gospel, we hear of two disciples to whom Jesus appeared after the Resurrection. After dining with them and “[opening] their minds to understand the scriptures,” Jesus gives them a final command. He says to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day…[you] are witnesses of these things.” One could, perhaps, dismiss a request from a saint, even one so illustrious as St. Peter, but if we are truly to live as good Catholics, we cannot dismiss a direct charge from Jesus Christ. As he commanded those two disciples, so He commands each and every one of us!
As our school year draws to a close, I encourage each of you to find one small way to be a better witness to Christ in your life. Perhaps it is holding doors open for the people behind you, or maybe watching your language and swearing. Even something as simple as a smile as you walk through campus can brighten someone’s day and bear witness to love of neighbor. Whatever, it is, your change does not have to be radical; it simply must be made in good faith and out of selfless love. Thank you these brief moments you have given to my post. I hope it has encouraged you to take one more step, however big or small, on your journey of faith.