We all go through times when it seems like everything is falling apart. The things that we considered to be certainties in life suddenly change and leave us disoriented and confused. The world we once knew changes and becomes a strange and alien place to us. There seems to be only difficult times ahead for us. Jesus seems to be warning his disciples of a time of great change that lies before them. “All that you see here (the temple) – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Lk 21,6) The destruction of the Jerusalem temple was certainly a time of crisis and change for all who had lived in its shadows. Gone were the celebrations of the great feast days, gone were the sacrifices and the entire temple cult. It must have seemed to them to be the end of days. Jesus warns his disciples, “such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” (Lk 21,9) Change happens. That is the way of the world in time. In time, all things will change. That is life. Our faith is lived in a world of constant change. As disciples of Jesus, what are we to do in times of change and upheaval?
“It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” (Luke 21,17) In times of great change we are called to be witnesses to that which is unchanging. Our faith cannot rely upon the things of this world that are passing and constantly changing. The bookmark of St. Teresa of Avila stated simply, “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; all things pass away, God never changes.” Jesus stated simply to his disciples, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Lk 21,33) We must be witnesses to faith in the word of God that leads us to eternal life. God’s love will never fail. God’s word and promises will never pass away. Christians are called to be prophets in a changing world and to give a constant, unchanging witness to the truth of God’s sacred word and promise. St. Peter wrote in his letter: “Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (2Pt 1,19ff) The witness we give with our lives is not something contrived or composed by our own thought but it is a genuine and authentic witness to the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. The Christian life is a life of giving testimony to our relationship with the Lord. Everything that we do and say testifies to God’s love, grace and presence in our lives.
The testimony that we give as witnesses to our faith is expressed most powerfully in our way of life. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13,35) The prophetic witness we give is a testimony to the love of God that is powerful and alive within us through the Holy Spirit. St. Paul reminds Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner of his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2Tim 1,7f) In difficult times of change and upheaval in the world we should not be afraid or ashamed of our faith. Living our faith day by day in the world is not easy for we will be challenged and even persecuted by others in the world. As Jesus says to his disciples, “you will be hated by all because of my name.” (Lk 21,17) We must be faithful witnesses to the gospel and never back down when faced with threats from the world.
Jesus told his disciples just before he ascended into heaven, “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1,8) It is a powerful thing to be a witness to faith. The world is changing and moving in a different direction but we must persevere in living our faith. No fear. No doubts. No backing down. No quitting. As prophetic witnesses we stand on the word of God, written on our hearts by the Holy Spirit of God. Who can resist or refute that. God’s love is Truth, that will never change!