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ARE WE BOLD WITNESSES FOR CHRIST?

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Eph. 1:15-23 & Lk. 12:8-12

Saint Paul heard how the Church at Ephesus was fulfilling the commandment to love God and love their neighbour and how strong was their faith in Jesus. This pleased him. But he reminds them that they have only begun their journey. He prays that Jesus will give them “a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring them to full knowledge of Him. (Eph. 1:17).

Learning to know Jesus does not happen all at once but slowly over time, even perhaps over our lifetimes. Who is this man Jesus? We must answer this question for ourselves. The Gospels present us with the portrait of the man who walked, talked, ate with friends, was angry with religious leaders, and who at times scolded his Apostles. But with the Resurrection and Ascension we believe the risen Christ is “seated at the right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). It is this Christ that Paul describes for the Ephesians. It is this Christ that Paul met on the road to Damascus; we must remember that he never walked the roads of Palestine with the man Jesus.

Paul also reminds us that the man from lowly Nazareth is now far above all earthly powers. We cannot compare Christ with anyone or anything on Earth. He is “far above every Sovereignty, Authority Power or Domination” (Ephesians 1:21). God has put all things under Christ’s feet and has made Him “ruler of everything, the head of the Church” (1:22). We are to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the One whose power is limitless. And finally, Paul reminds us that the risen Christ is far above the most limiting of all, of time itself. We are captive to our limited time on this Earth, but not the risen Christ. Our Lord Jesus is “above any name that can be named, not only in this age but also in the age to come” (Eph. 1:21). Far above place, power, time, and yet Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. Fully God, fully man, Paul wants the church in Ephesus to come to know the risen Christ so that they may fully know who they are and the life that lies before them. He wants them to appreciate the hope that is theirs and to appreciate the riches of their inheritance. He wants them to understand how Christ’s power is working in and through them each and every day. Paul wanted us to know the same. We too have been given that hope and those riches as we come to know the risen and ascended Christ.

Jesus knew that the animosity of His enemies was building to a fever pitch. If He went to Jerusalem for the Passover He was certain that He would suffer the same fate that all the great prophets of Israel had suffered - martyrdom for the sake of the truth of God. So Jesus took every opportunity to prepare His disciples to carry on His work after He was gone.

He wanted them, and He wants us, to acknowledge Him openly and boldly, despite the difficulties and dangers inherent in doing so. Sometimes we think of the possibility of martyrdom and must wonder if we would be able to be faithful to Jesus if it meant death. We may think that we witness to Him pretty well in our everyday lives but do we really? We listen to attacks on Jesus and His Church without objection, sometimes even nodding or smiling as if to let on that we agree. We would never say such things ourselves, but do we stand up for Jesus even when there is no possibility of martyrdom? How many of us have a terrible time just making the sign of the Cross before a meal in a restaurant because people might think we are Catholics?

What is this sin that Jesus mentions against the Holy Spirit in today's Gospel which will never be forgiven? It is the sin of denying the known truth. If you know something is the truth and you deny it, how can you be forgiven?

Jesus talks about not preparing a defence when we are brought before opposition. Yes, there are times in life when we are not given time to rehearse, or even think about what we are going to say. Then all we can do is depend on the inspiration of the moment. The amazing thing is that we often come up with our most profound insights in such situations! Those must be the occasions the Holy Spirit inspires us.

Lord Jesus, make us Your bold witnesses, never afraid to speak up for the truth and for You, and may You acknowledge us before Your Father in Heaven.

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