THURSDAY SEVENTH WEEK OF EASTER
OPTIONAL MEMORIAL OF ST. NORBERT
(Acts 22:30, 23:6-11; Ps 15:1-2, 5, 7-11; Jn 17:20-26)
THEME: BEARING WITNESS FOR THE LORD
Christians are ambassadors of God here on earth. We have a mandate to represent and defend the interest of God here on earth and to take advantage of the prevailing situations in our lives and communities to bring Christ to all.
The first reading of today encourages us to do that by bearing witness to the Lord always.
These are the words uttered by the Lord to St. Paul himself after the tense and heavy day in the council for trial. Paul had been arrested and put in prison but is given a hearing today. We are told that the Tribune wanted to know what precise charge the Jews were bringing against Paul and so called for a meeting of the entire Sanhedrin. Since the people at this meeting were Pharisees and Sadduces, Paul decided to make use of their differences to state his case: “Brothers, I am a Pharisee and the son of Pharisees. It is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6). A big dispute broke out because of their differences in beliefs. The ensuing debate between the two parties was so fierce that fearing for the life of Paul, the Tribune demanded Paul be taken from their midst to the fortress. The event brings to mind two things:
1. The words of Jesus to his disciples that they should not be worried as to what to say when they are dragged to court on account of his Word, for his Father shall give them words to speak.
2. The caution not to hang on accidentals and forget the essence of christianity, that is, not to let doctrinal differences among Christians de-rail us from our focus-Christ.
Dear friends, we all need to bear witness to the Lord at all times. We are told that at night the Lord himself appeared to Paul to encourage him for bearing witness to him and told him he will leave Jerusalem for Rome where he must continue to bear witness for him. We most often want to bear witness for the Lord, but our wants and desires keep us away from this great task. Not just that but fear of suffering for Christ, as Paul suffered, keep us from bearing witness to Christ. We all need to leave our comfort zones and take on board the message of the gospel to all the ends of the earth. This is our mission as ambassadors of God here on earth. The life of St. Paul ought to challenge and strengthen us towards this. He went through thick and thin for the sake of the gospel of Christ. His reward for that is in heaven.
Let us ask the good Lord to have mercy on us for the many times we have failed to bear witness for him and for the graces to bear witness for him all the days of our lives; not just by word of mouth but by our manner of living. May St. Narberth whose memorial we celebrate help us in this regard.