A courtroom, a judge, a trial. A witness appears and testifies. A little later a lawyer tries to refute the testimony. This is typical of a scene we have watched in many films. We know what the lawyer has to do. There are many ways to refute a testimony. Quite often the witness’ past is a good starting point.
When we hear in today’s gospel: “You are witnesses to this” some questions arise: “What does it mean for me as a person? What does it mean for us as a community? What does it mean for the world at large?”
Looking around at the world in which we live, the answer to the last question seems simple. The world doesn’t want Christian testimony. The world expects Christians to keep their faith very personal, quite hidden from others. In our culture speaking about faith is old-fashioned and bizarre. But, I’m not sure that speaking about our faith is always a good idea…
When we look at the history of Christianity we might be amazed at how effective Christians were at the beginning. Their new faith spread around like fire in heather. Within a few years Christian communities started to appear in every corner of the Roman world. How was it possible that twelve people generally not educated and certainly without any earthly power could spread their belief throughout the ancient world? The answer is: by their testimony. You might then ask: “What kind of testimony?” Listen again: “In Christ’s name repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations”. Do you see? Christians were becoming a new creation. A change deep inside their hearts influenced their external lives, turning them into extraordinary people. They differed from the world not by a particular kind of clothes, but by a particular kind of love. People who saw them asked where the change had come from. Many of the questioners became Christians thanks to the testimony of life that they had observed.
Do you see? At the beginning Christians did not have to think about giving a testimony. They just lived their lives according to their faith. Their testimony was the result of their deep relationship with God.
When we think about Christian testimony in our world, we need just to renew that old-fashioned, ancient way of being a believer. We should stand out in the world not by any particular appearance or customs, but by a particular and extraordinary love.