By Patrick Kateregga
From the evening before 1st April 2018, we officially ended the Holy week and started the memorable annual and special Easter period (season) of the Catholic Liturgical Year with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead on the first day (Sunday) of the week (John 20:1). The liturgical Celebration of the Word of God during Easter prepares us to be witnesses to the risen Christ, who from the day of resurrection has appeared to His disciples and believed; Jesus is risen, alleluia. From Scripture, the word ‘witness’ is mentioned over 183 times from Genesis to Revelation. God hence stresses a point of witnessing to the good news.
The encounter with the risen Lord dispelled the doubts, fears and incredulity of the Apostles. But, what does it mean to be a witness? Of what importance is it to be one and to Christ? Witness from a Christian understanding is a direct translation of martyros to mean ‘Martyr’ – one who bears testimony to faith especially by willingly suffering death rather than surrendering his or her religious faith. From old English, witness means, attestation of a fact or event, from personal knowledge. It is a noun to mean one who testifies true knowledge.
Called by name: To call, means a beckoning or summoning. God calls us to different vocations of life from where we give true witness to His name. Exodus 33: 12 – 17, God informs the Israelites that because He knows them by name, they will enjoy His favour. As we also read Jeremiah 1: 5, God knew Jeremiah even before he was formed in his mother’s womb. God calls us as individuals, according to our talents, and so when answering, we should do it as individuals. After being called, one is sent as an Apostle. The first word of Jesus to the Disciples was ‘come’ (John 1:39) and the last one was ‘Go’ (Mark 16:20).
No one can be commissioned by Christ to go unless you come. You will be my witnesses are the words picked from Acts 1:8 that reads; “but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria, and indeed to earth’s remotest end.” Jesus’ last statement should be our mission; to witness to the truth. In baptism, we became true witnesses to the truth as prophets, kings and priests; the three major ministries of Christ shared by humanity. The one we witness shall be with us as a true guide (“…and look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” Mathew 28: 20).
To be a good witness in the normal sense (in courts of Law), one is required to have clear knowledge about the case, probably by seeing, otherwise, he or she can be penalized. This is why in fact seminarians have quite a long formation period of study to priesthood, and the initiation studies of Catholics also takes quite a good time that candidates may have enough understanding of who they are to witness. This is the fact in 1 John 1: 1 -5: ‘We have seen and heard’ and so we teach you. Hence, clear understanding of the case is much more required and in fact, to know God is eternal life (1 John 15: 20) and so the judge will regard us true witnesses.
One challenge is to witness someone we do not see physically, but by faith. This is why we are required to have a dialogue daily with God in prayer that He may increase our faith (Luke 17: 5). Being killed like the martyrs may not be our way, but taking our crosses to follow the truth and avoid ungodly doings of corruption, embezzlement, adultery, theft, disobedience, underlooking others, witchcraft, lies, disrespect of elders, murder, among others. When you are strong, strengthen your brother.
When weak, come to your brother, we are all weak, let us run to Jesus, who is for us all. We should be good shepherds who lay down our lives for the sake of the sheep. By this, we shall be great witnesses to the risen Christ who calls us by name.
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