Today’s readings are all about reminding and testimony. When the Lord God is enraged by the Israelite’s worship of a molten calf, Moses reminds God of his promises to the patriarchs, and “the Lord relented in the punishment he had threatened to inflict upon his people.” The Psalmist recalls that incident and others, to remind his fellow Israelites to recall the Lord’s care for them (Ps 106). Then we hear Jesus, like the Psalmist, chide his adversaries for not attending and responding to the testimony available to them—namely, Jesus’ witnessing to the Father, the Father’s own works in Jesus’ ministry, John the Baptist’s testimony, and the testimony of the Scripture as they speak of Jesus.
All of this testimony talk is a reminder to us that our own faith life is about responding to testimony—what we see, and hear about faith-filled people acting and doing in the world around us.
This reminds me of how my own faith was enlivened by the example and testimony of the people in my childhood. First, my mother as she helped me as a child pray at bedtime. Then came the testimony of the Dominican nuns at St. Robert’s grade school. Then there was the witness of friends of the family. I remember especially a long-time friend of my folks who exhibited a special gift of faith that prompted her to act on her charitable instincts in spectacular ways. Her husband’s military assignment called their family to live in Germany shortly after World War II. One day, she was looking at a bombed out church in the presence of some U.S. soldiers stationed there. She to them, “You know, our planes bombed this church. If I raise the money, would you help me repair this church?” How could they say No? “The Lord will provide,” she said. She got on a, plane and appeared on a national U.S. radio show called “The Breakfast Club,” made a pitch, money started coming in, and eventually, by God, she got the church re-built. Hearing about that story of faith and love made an impact on me.
We meet such people and hear such stories all through our lives. Today’s readings remind us to attend and remember this kind of testimony so that our own faith can be enlivened. A vehicle of such testimony that is doing that for me these days is Father Greg Boyle’s book, Tattoos on the Heart. Father Greg is a Jesuit who works with gang members in L.A. He tells true stories of grace working in the midst of poverty, chaos, and despair that will make you cry and laugh at the same time—and begin to expect more of God in your own little life. It is available in paperback now. I recommend it.