Scripture: Lectionary 268. 4/17/12 Acts 4:32-37. Psalm 93:1.1-2.5. John 3:7-15
One of the recurring themes for this Easter season is that of witnessing or giving testimony. Interestingly, the word in Greek is also used for martyrdom! We will see from the ongoing Scriptures that the early followers of Jesus and the Apostles were called to witness even as martyrs.
Our first reading from Acts focuses on the good things that happen when there is a commitment to community and to sharing unselfishly. The early Christians had all things in common; they prayed together, shared their faith stories, ate together and celebrated the “breaking of the bread” (Eucharist, communion). A new word will appear as we read these summaries of Acts—koinonia. This not only entails community but friendship within the community among all those who belong. This sense of belonging is the most important feature in groups for attracting others to share the same goals. The early Christians did this very well with the help and stimulation given them from the Apostles. They had one heart and one soul (Cor una et anima una!).
Slowly structures were necessary for the building of communities of faith and for the good order necessary to do good for others especially the poor and those who have no one to support them. Part of this building consisted in keeping the motivation alive and well. They witnessed to the Name of Jesus and especially to his Resurrection. “The apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and there was a great respect for all who were in the community.”
The Psalm Response shows us the person whom we honor in testifying to his and God’s name (person): “The Lord is king; he is robed in majesty and is girt about with strength.” This is easily related to the glorification of Jesus after his resurrection.
In the Gospel of John we continue the dialogue of Jesus with Nicodemus. Jesus speaks about the Spirit; Jesus is also witnessing not to himself but to the Holy Spirit who moves about where the Spirit wills just like the wind. We listen to Jesus pluralizing the call to witness: “We are testifying to what we have seen.” Jesus is helping Nicodemus to understand what he is saying though he does this through the symbolism that is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel. John’s Gospel is the Gospel of dialogue and therefore always involves the “we”, the “us”. Like Nicodemus we must come to see that Jesus must be lifted up, that all who believe may have life in him.” His testimony is true. Ours must be the same. Amen. Alleluia.