Reflection by Sr. Padraigin McKenna OP
“You will be my witnesses”
This is our calling, this is our challenge, a vocation which we received when we were baptised. And every year, especially at this time of the Liturgical Year, we are encouraged to look again at our lives and to see how we are really being a witness of Christ.
And what does it mean to be a witness? How can I show those whom I meet that I really am a zealous follower of Christ? It was in Antioch that the apostles were first called Christians and from what we learn from the Acts of the Apostles we learn that people were drawn to follow Jesus because they were influenced by the way his Disciples lived. They tried to imitate Christ who went from place from place doing good and I too am called to do likewise.
There is a lovely story, a legend which bears this fact out. The event supposedly happened somewhere in Europe, where there used to be an enormous statue of Christ, the Redeemer, a replica of Cristo Rei in Rio de Janeiro. The citizens of the town were very devoted to their statue of Christ with his arms wide open in welcome, and were very proud of it. Visitors used to come to the sacred and pray for guidance and help.
It happened during the Second World War that a bomb landed on the city and it was completely destroyed. Their homes were wrecked and the people were absolutely devastated by the destruction and ruin of their beloved statue – all that was left was a mound of broken stones and rubble. Determined to do something, they got together to decide what they could do and as a result they agreed to try and reconstruct the statue. Enthusiastically they commenced the important work. They built the feet, the legs, the torso, the head and the arms, but when they came to build the hands they had no stones left with which to build. Disappointed and frustrated they returned to their homes to reconsider their plans. Next morning they returned to the site of the statue and were amazed to find that in the place where the hands should have been, there was a huge notice bearing the message:
YOU ARE MY HANDS!”
And that is the real truth, that is the great reality. As we learn in Saint Catherine’s Dialogue, when she talks about Jesus speaking to her we read:
“I gave you EYES to look at the sky and everything else and the beauty of creation through me.
“I gave you your EARS to listen to my word and to pay attention to the needs of your neighbours.
“I gave you your TONGUE to proclaim my word, to confess your own sins, and to work for the salvation of others.
“I gave you your HANDS to serve your neighbours when you see them sick, and to help them with alms in their need.
“I gave you your FEET to carry you to places that are holy and useful to you and your neighbours for the glory and praise of my name.”
We are all called to be witnesses to Christ, but we can remember that we are not alone in our efforts – the Holy Spirit is with us leading and guiding us in the footsteps of Jesus.
THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE LOVE; JOY; PEACE; PATIENCE; KINDNESS; GOODNESS; TRUSTFULNESS; GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL.
Are these traits the mark and sign of my life? If the answer is “Yes” then I can truly say I am fulfilling my God given mission “You will be my witness” to the best of my ability.
Sr Padraigin McKenna O.P