Witnessing for Jesus

John 15: 26-164a
Acts 16: 11-15 / Ps 149

You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
(John 15: 27)

The Holy Spirit our Lord has sent
That in His Name we’ll testify;
With His gift of Faith, what can prevent
Our Witnessing for Jesus Christ?

Jesus said, ‘When the Advocate* comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning. 16I have told you these that you may not fall away. 2They will expel you from the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when those who kill you will think that they are offering worship to God. 3And they will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. 4I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you about them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.’ (John 15: 26 – 16: 4)

Reflection

When St. Paul first encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, his personal conversion was immediate. He was filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to testify about Jesus in every place that the Holy Spirit sent him. The Spirit worked so powerfully in him that those who listened with an open heart were instantly converted. In the city of Philippi, a Roman colony in Macedonia, a prominent woman named Lydia (Acts 16:14) was so taken in by St. Paul’s testimony that she invited him and his companion to her home, and she and her entire household were baptized and converted.

The prophecy of Jesus in today’s Gospel of John applied accurately to the experiences of St. Paul in his mission (although he was not with Him “from the beginning”, but was His last apostle). He was not only expelled by the Jews from their synagogues, but was stoned on several occasions. The Jews wanted to kill him because they thought he was blaspheming against their “One true God” by preaching about Jesus. Ignorant about the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, the Jews did not really come to know either the Father or Jesus.

Jesus was forewarning His disciples about the persecutions that would surely come upon the Christian community because of the testimony that the early Church would spread about the Risen Lord. Jews and Romans alike would carry out the torments that His followers would have to suffer in building up His Church.

Our Lord’s prophecy about religious conflicts and ethnic purgings would continue up to the present time, just as it had been happening for hundreds of years during the time of the medieval crusades up to the current age in the conflicts of Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, the Muslims and Christians in Bosnia, and right in our own backyard in the Muslim areas of Mindanao. There seems to be no end to these religious conflicts. This is because people still cannot discern God’s message of love. “They have not known either the Father or me.”

Reflecting on His words, it is not surprising that most of us who “have been with Jesus” (in the renewal) and touched by His Holy Spirit cannot help but testify on His behalf. If we do not give witness to His Good News of salvation, then we will be in danger of falling away, like the proverbial branch cut off from the vine. In this light, our Brotherhood encourages all its members to testify for Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit by sharing their life testimony in our weekly breakfast meetings. As a result, many former lukewarm Catholics invited to our Saturday breakfast meetings have found their faith renewed because of this unique feature in our Brotherhood’s culture.

You call us, Father God, to give witness to Your power of transforming our lives, and Your Spirit has inspired and emboldened us to proclaim Your Word in our assemblies. Open the minds and hearts of those to whom we are giving our testimony, so that the seed You plant may grow and bear fruits abundantly. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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