Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday After Epiphany
The Testimony of Heart and Hand

Readings: 1 John 5:5-13; Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20; Luke 5:12-16

The testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has this testimony within himself…

What do you think of when you hear the word testimony? I know one particular image quickly comes to my mind. It is that of someone speaking from a witness box in a court of law. Isn’t this what it means to testify? You speak in support of someone or something so that others might believe. And often the testimony of a witness can be crucial. In capital cases it can even mean the difference between life and death. This is also the significance of the testimony referred to in the first reading. For what is at stake is belief in the Son of God. And, as we heard, whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. What is at stake here is nothing less than eternal life for the salvation of the world.

Again, what do you think of when you hear the word testimony? When it becomes clear that we’re speaking in the realm of faith, another image comes to my mind. It is that of what is sometimes referred to as the bible-thumping Christian. Whether it is on the street or going from door-to-door, this person is also giving testimony. S/he is speaking about the Son of God so that people might believe in Him and have life. Whatever may be our reactions to this image, we cannot deny that, as Christians, we all have the responsibility to, in some way, testify to Christ by word of mouth. But even before considering what might be our responsibility, the Mass readings for today invite us to linger over other images.

What do you think of when you hear the word testimony? In the gospel, we are presented with an image of Jesus’ testimony to the Father’s love for us. In addition to the testimony of the word, his is also a testimony of the hand. When confronted with the pitiful but revolting sight of a leper, we are told that Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him… This testimony is also a symbolic action. It points us to the true identity and mission of Jesus. In him God the Father stretches out a hand of compassion to gather us into the warmth of the divine embrace. Which is why there is more to the testimony that Jesus gives in the gospel. His outstretched hand is also a testimony of the heart, a heart moved with pity at the plight of others, at our plight.

What do you think of when you hear the word testimony? The first reading hints at yet another image. Here, we see the full extent of the testimony of heart and hand that Jesus offers us. We are told that Jesus Christ came not by water alone, but by water and blood. What comes to mind is, of course, that scene in John 19:34 where the crucified Christ has his side pierced by a soldier’s lance, and at once there came out blood and water… What we find here is a testimony of the broken heart and the broken hand.

These are the scenes that our readings bring to our attention as the Christmas season gradually draws to a close. They are primarily images that testify to the love that the season celebrates. Not so much our love for God, but God’s love for us. As we continue to contemplate these images, perhaps we might pray that they will move us to offer our own unique testimony to a waiting world.

How are we being called to do this today?

1 comment:

  1. What do I think of when I hear the word testimony? I think of being a witness to Christ.

    Easy for me to say but so hard to do. Because I must try not only to testify to the truth of our Lord but to "Act" the way of our Lord. I can profess my faith but to live out my faith is a challenge.

    I believe that being a witness to God is the fruit of our knowledge of Him. All our understanding of scripture and Bible must make us better witnesses of Christ.

    I remember reading somewhere (maybe The Catholic News) that we can pray fervently in Church and be reflective and holy but the minute we step into the car and shout at the warden because someone is blocking your way, everything goes down the drain.

    In the end I feel that it is how I treat my neighbour that shows if I am testifying to Christ.