Are You a Credible Witness?

A Resurrectionist Vocation Minute for April 14, 3rd Sunday of Easter

Are you a credible witness? 

This Sunday’s readings are really all about an uncomfortable topic: forgiveness of sins.  Forgiveness isn’t the uncomfortable part – because when we need it, who doesn’t want it?  It’s the sin part that is uncomfortable.  At the core of the Easter proclamation is not: “cheer up, things will get better!” or “hope for the best.”  Jesus did not suffer, die, and rise in order to remind us to be positive.  People can, and many do just that without reference to the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

At the core of the Easter proclamation – as Jesus says quite unequivocally in today’s Gospel – is that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in the name of Jesus to all nations, and that we are witnesses of these things.

The reason why this topic is so uncomfortable is because it touches on one of the most fundamental things in our lives – our consciences.  “[Our] conscience is [our] most secret core and [our] sanctuary.  There [we are] alone with God whose voice echoes in [our] depths.” (CCC 1776) 

However accurate or inaccurate, whether we pay attention to it or try to ignore it, we all have some idea of ourselves and our moral quality as a person.  “Good” or “bad”.  Talking to ourselves or others about “sin” is uncomfortable and often problematic because unlike other things, the subject touches directly on this level of who we are – our moral quality as a person. 

So why does Jesus send out His disciples – and us – to proclaim this message if it touches on something so uncomfortable?  Because He has good news to share – there is now a remedy for the thing we thought had no remedy.  There is healing and acceptance for shame.  There is forgiveness for sins.  There is life that can come out of death.  But nobody will believe this message unless it is comes through credible witnesses. 

Telling someone carrying a burden of sin that they are sinners in need of repentance is not a proclamation of good news – any more than telling someone they have cancer and in need of treatment is a proclamation of good news.  But someone who’s actually had cancer and recovered – has something credible to say.  And someone who’s carried a burden of sin but has experienced God’s forgiveness – has something credible to say.  We are all called to proclaim the good news of the forgiveness of sins.  But are we in touch with God’s forgiveness?  Are we credible witnesses of these things?

“Therefore, individual houses must be vital Christian communities, where the faith, hope and love of each religious is both expressed and developed. Faith is expressed and developed as they share their Christian values, celebrate the Eucharist together and pray together. Hope is expressed and developed when they share one another's sorrows and joys and when they encourage and support one another in pursuit of their spiritual and apostolic goals. Love is expressed and developed by their efforts to bring the care, compassion and forgiveness of Christ to one another and by their efforts to become signs of the unrestricted quality of his love, by the sincere manifestation of their love for all of the religious with whom they have been asked to share their lives in this particular local community.”

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