Homily of Fr. Augustine Thomas, SJ

Monday of Sixth Week of Easter

“You are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning” The invitation of Jesus in the gospel today is to testify. In other words, to make our life as an evidence of our faith.  In this regard, I propose two points for personal reflection.

A story goes like this. A beggar came asking for food. The house owner opened the door and told the man to go to the back door and be seated on the floor. He then with two plates of food arrived and sat at the table. He said, let us pray and asked the beggar to repeat after him. He started, “Our Father in heaven…” The beggar repeated, “your father in heaven.” The man prayed again, “Our Father in heaven” and the beggar again said, “your father in haven” The irritated man asked the beggar, Isn’t’ God your Father too? Then the beggar replied, “ If I say our Father we both become brothers which mans you would have welcomed me through the front door not through the back door; you would have asked me to sit  at the table with you and talk like a brother not make me sit on the floor. And so he is your Father. Point for reflection: Do we witness God as “our Father” or “my Father in our attitude and action?”

The Christian testimony of love is beyond a social action or a work of charity. It’s a charity purely and totally sprouting from the attitude that we belong to one family. There we feel pain of the pained, hunger of the hungry, loneliness of the lonely. There our compassion turn into action. Its such a spontaneous action that requires no further persuasion.

Secondly let me share an experience. There is a hill called Nagarkot in Kathmandu valley, in Nepal. People wake up as early and go up to the viewpoint to see the magnificent sunrise. One can see the entire Himalayan mountain range from there and when the sun rises, at the reflection of the sun, the mountains begin to turn to gold, red and then pure white. Its such a splendid sight. You will see people standing alone and smiling from the heart, some singing, some sitting in meditative posture and being one with that beauty, an experience that make you forget everything then. And after spending considerable amount if time up there and when they descend the hill, you don’t hear anyone talking about anything else but about the details of their experience of sunrise. Point for reflection: How deep is my experience of God and how willing am I to testify Jesus and his work in my life?

Yes, what we testify is what we experience. Grace of God is abundant in each one’s life and we experience them personally; we experience the transforming love of God in our own unique way. Great Christian martyrs have shown us, deeper the experience of God braver the testimony. Couple of weeks ago at Jesuit residence, all of us spent an hour, sharing about our experiences of consolation and desolation during this pandemic. We all, including our great theology professors, were simply sharing the experiences of what one feels at the soul level:  peace, joy, disturbances, sadness, helplessness and so forth. Such sharings are humbling in nature but profound confessions of faith.  In families, something that can nurture faith is through sharing the spiritual experiences, sharing the consolations and desolations, sharing the movements at soul level, sharing where one experienced the presence of God during the day. Recounting God experiences as a community is something that kept the first Christians stronger in faith even when they were facing persecution. Often, we find it easier to share reflections on God, knowledge of God, theologies on faith but hesitant or reserved when it comes to share one’s personal experience of God.

Jesus missions us, “You are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.” And we have been with Him for a long time, from the day of Baptism. May our lives in our family and society become a beacon of our faith.

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