Reflection on the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scripture readings for this reflection: Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26
Roughly a year prior to my ordination as a Permanent Deacon in May 2018, one of our formation topics was on catechetics or, said another way, how to educate others in the faith. The instructor shared many documents written over the years on the necessity of teaching the faith and how to do it.
One of the methods that actually surprised me, yet interested me, was that of sharing our personal story on why I am a follower of Jesus Christ. To that end, the instructor had us write a two-minute testimony that each of us would share with the entire class. He stressed that a personal testimony or witness is often the most effective method of connecting with others. It comes from the heart and one’s personal experiences in which others can relate.
As I considered giving my testimony, I would play over and over again in my head two great songs (at least to me) regarding giving a personal testimony about our faith in Jesus Christ. Vestal Goodman of the “The Happy Goodmans” (yes, I am dating myself here!) belted out these lines in “Stand and Testify”: I want to stand and testify how the Lord has brought me from a mighty long way. Every day I walk through this land he lights my way, guiding me in everything. I just have to praise him for all he’s brought me through.
The “Tally Trio” sings from their heart in “Testify”: There’s been times in my life when I was down and in despair. I fell down on my knees and I called on God in prayer. I thanked Him for His blessings and named them one by one. But most of all I thank you Lord for all you’ve done. Somebody oughta testify…
As I read today’s second reading from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, I could not help but think about the importance of personal testimony. Paul, in his customary straight-forward fashion, tells the people of Corinth, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain!” He knew there was a growing group of Corinthians that denied Jesus’ resurrection. St. Paul was standing tall testifying to that stubborn group from Corinth that Jesus did in fact rise.
Jesus’ resurrection is so pivotal for all followers of Christ. St. Paul speaks the truth: our faith is in vain if Jesus had stayed in the grave. The fact is that many people saw Christ alive after his crucifixion and burial…Cephas, the Twelve, 500 brothers, James, and Paul himself (1 Cor 15:5-8). Death does not have the final answer. The Preface to Eucharistic Prayer II states this reality so well: He stretched out his hands as he endured his Passion, so as to break the bonds of death and manifest the resurrection.
The reality of Jesus’ resurrection is something each of us must shout out and testify! One of my favorite quotes regarding Jesus’ resurrection comes from the great theologian, St. Augustine: “The resurrection of Christ was God’s supreme and wholly marvelous work.” Yes indeed!! As followers of Christ, his resurrection gives us hope that we can be with Our Lord forever and ever in eternity after we pass from this life to the next.
In the first year of his pontificate, Pope Francis wrote in “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”): “There is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet … this is the informal preaching which takes place in the middle of a conversation.” Jesus provides many examples of “informal preaching.” Like when he casually spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob (John 4:39). This conversation changed her life, and she went to other Samaritans who came to believe because of her testimony.
Good people of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, what is your testimony that will help others come to the faith? Know what it is and do not be afraid to share it!
©TM Deacon Kiblinger is assigned to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Cape Girardeau where he assists in the parish by coordinating the RCIA and the “Serving the Poor” committee.