We must be witnesses

Sunday readings in Brief 3 Easter A

Acts 2:14,23-33; Psalm 15(16); 1 Peter 1:17-21; Luke 24:13-35

We must be witnesses

Dear friends, today is the third Sunday of Easter. The Easter period last fifty days which includes forty days from resurrection to Ascension and ten days from Ascension to Pentecost. For the disciples of Jesus, this period was filled with a mixture of joy and fear at the same time. Joy because their Master, who had been crucified, was alive again and fearful because it was no longer safe for them. However, after receiving the Holy Spirit, all fear vanished and they started giving witness to the resurrection of Christ. Today, all those baptized in Christ must give witness to the resurrection and its implication in the world without fear.

In the first reading, we hear how Peter, full of conviction and courage, explains to the crowd that the man called Jesus who was crucified by the Jewish leaders under the Roman authority was indeed the Christ of God who was to come. He is the same Messiah who was foreseen by their ancestor David. The task of the disciples now is to give witness to Christ so that those listening may understand and be saved.

In his first letter, St. Peter explains that Christ was raised to save us from the “useless” way of life that we inherited from our ancestors, in other words, from sinful and discriminatory traditions and customs. This former way of life was punishable by eternal death but through his blood, Christ has paid the price for us. All we need to do now is to believe in Him and follow the path that He has shown us through His teachings.

Christian morality based on the teachings of Christ is a way of life and not an occasional celebration. Many Christians who were baptized via shortcut i.e. without enough catechesis and proper induction into Christian culture, think that being a Christian means simply going to worship on Sunday and being faithful to Church contributions. Some unscrupulous religious leaders are mostly to blame for this just as parents bare the greatest responsibility for their children’s behavior. The way a Christian is brought up, the way he grows. I always tell my parishioners that as a “father” to them, my job is to bring up new good parishioners and correct the old ones who have strayed from the right path. If I fail to do that for whatever reasons, then I have a case to answer to the one who sent me, Christ himself through the Church authorities.

The greatest challenge I face in my mission is to preach to people who are baptized but not converted. It takes a lot of energy to get such people to live their faith even for one full week because they were not inducted fully into the Christian culture. They did not abandon their former way of life to embrace the new one. The Christian way of life to them is like a new and uncomfortable party shoe that someone is persevering to remove as soon as the party is over. A well-catechized believer does not need to be convinced every Sunday about the benefit of being faithful to his or her calling. Sunday worship is a time to celebrate the mysteries of our salvation and remind ourselves about the demands of our calling.

In the Gospel, Jesus finds himself in the same position where he had to explain all over again the meaning of the Scriptures, to two of his disciples who were going back to the village after all hope had vanished because their master had been crucified. They had not yet understood him. They were very disappointed because all their expectations had been shuttered. Because of wrong catechesis aimed at attracting more people to the Church for many other interests rather than witnessing to Christ, many baptized go back to their former way of life when they realize that what they expected is not the case. A good minister of the Gospel is not one who fills the Church with baptized people but one who gets even a few to see the light and get converted. Unfortunately, many Christian places of worship are full of worshippers but very few true witnesses of the risen Lord.

Dear friends, a true witness does not need to be pushed around to perform the duties and responsibilities demanded of him or her by the tenets of faith he or she subscribes. These include paying full tithe (10%) of all earnings, participating in all activities pertaining to his or her Christian community, and contributing to the development of his or her faith institution, etc. because this is presumed in the baptism package they received. If you find it difficult to do any of these, then you should know that you were not fully inculcated into Christianity. Unless you seek proper induction, being a Christian for “Public Relations” reasons can be a very tiring thing to do. Eventually, you will always find excuses not to be compliant.

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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