People who know and love Jesus Christ exude a great joy. Every day, Catholics who make a witness of their faith to the people around them heal others through their work. The Acts of the Apostles demonstrate the power that comes from awakened believers who give witness through their words and deeds.
St. Philip Neri, whose feast day is May 26, is a great model for every Catholic. He proclaimed the truth of Christ and lived out his identity and the hope for salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. The result was entire cities coming alive with the joy of the Gospel.
Every member of the Church is called to evaluate the way in which we have given witness in our attempts to live and to communicate Christianity. A witness is a person who can give evidence based on personal and immediate knowledge of a fact, event or experience. The Christian concept of witness adds to the popular notion the idea of a religious experience to which a believer testifies by his or her life, words and actions, and thus inspires others.
By the grace of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, we are fully equipped to be witnesses of the faith to the people in our lives. The Holy Spirit gives us the ability to communicate the truths of the faith and help lead others to salvation. At every holy Mass, Jesus gives himself in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist so that we may be strengthened and nourished to proclaim his name and live the life of grace.
When we are prepared to give an explanation for the hope that is within us, amazing things happen in the lives of others. Our personal testimony helps others recognize that it is reasonable to be a Christian. Through our words and deeds, we communicate to others the tremendous advantage it is to be a person of faith. The reason that so many people abandon the faith in our world today is because they see no trace of this advantage to live the Christian life.
Our role as witnesses in the Church means that we know in the depths of our hearts that Jesus Christ is the reason for the hope that is within us. Living like a Catholic means that we look to Jesus as the fundamental answer to the deepest questions in our lives. Our world is starving for credible witnesses who will be able to share with others — in a matter-of-fact way — how Jesus Christ has changed their lives.
Servant of God Msgr. Luigi Giussani proclaimed that “nothing is so incredible as the answer to a question that is not asked.” If you declare what God has done in your life, you give others the answer that they have been looking for all along. And like St. Phillip, you will help lead others toward their eternal destiny through Christ Jesus our lord.
Deacon Smith is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His teaching parish is
St. Patrick in Oak Grove, and his home parish is St. Michael in Sioux Falls.