Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"YOU ARE WITNESSES"


April 20th, 2017: Easter Thursday: Luke 24:35-48.

“You are witnesses of these things,” Jesus tells his first frightened and then incredulous friends at the end of this gospel reading. Those words were not merely a statement. They were a sending, a command. The risen Lord continues to issue this command today – to us.

How do we bear witness to Jesus Christ? There are as many ways as there are witnesses. A few years back our local newspaper had an article about one such witness: Sister Irene Marie of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who take a special vow of “hospitality to the aged poor.” As “collector” for her community, she hits the street daily to collect supplies for their 100-bed home for the elderly. One of her regular stops is the wholesale food market on4.20 Produce Row. A man who sees her there often says: “I guess a polite way to describe Produce Row is ‘tough.’ But Sister Irene just goes right in there and tells those guys what she needs. They’re like little puppies around her.”

What’s her secret? She is careful not to push too hard, the article says. “You can’t expect people to give what they can’t afford,” Sister Irene told the reporter who wrote the article. “If we pushed like that, then God wouldn’t bless our work.”

          She wasn’t always in this line of work. “I was a seamstress in our Cleveland house,” she told the reporter. “One day Mother Superior told me I was going to be the collector.” Wasn’t she worried about taking on something for which she had no experience?  “Not really,” Sister Irene replied. “I’d never sewn before either.” That’s amusing, of course. But the deep and simple faith reflected in that Sister’s words is also uplifting. She is a shining witness to the power, and love, of the risen Lord Jesus.  

Friends, you don’t have to be a religious Sister to be a witness to Jesus Christ. You don’t have to be a priest either. There are people here in this church right now who, like that Sister, are bearing witness to the risen Lord by the inner quality of their lives: women and men of deep faith, steadfast hope even when all looks dark, and active, generous love for God and others.

          Here in the Eucharist we encounter the One who sends us out to be his witnesses in daily life. Here, in word and sacrament, we receive once again all his power, all his goodness, all his purity, all his love. And when we have Him, we have everything.