On the day of Pentecost after the disciples experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit, Peter is trying to explain to people who had heard them praising God in various tongues and languages what was happening. He says, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” (Acts 2:32)
The disciples had experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had told them in Acts 1:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth.” Four hundred years earlier, the prophet, Joel foretold, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” – young and old, sons and daughters, men and women, even servants and slaves.” (Joel 2:28)
Acts 1:15 indicates that there were 120 present following the ascension of Jesus. Paul reports in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus appeared to “more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time.” All of these were witnesses to Jesus and his resurrection.
God invites all of us to meet the resurrected Jesus in a way that is unique and personal to each of us, and then like Peter and the several hundred disciples who saw Jesus after his resurrection, we are called to witness to the resurrected Jesus in our own life – that we have met him, that he lives in us and that he is real. Thirty-seven years ago, I met Jesus one October evening during a healing mass, and he took some disorder and sin from my life and offered me a new life if I would accept his healing, forgiveness and love.
I accepted his offer. For 37 years I have been trying to witness to his resurrection and presence in my life and the life of my family and others. I don’t always do as good a job as I should, but the reality of his presence is there nevertheless. I have spoken about him to my family, business colleagues, bosses, subordinates; to people individually, in small groups and large groups; sometimes to strangers. I have spoken of his love, his forgiveness, his provision, his guidance, his revelation of scripture, his presence in the sacraments and his presence in others. The greatest challenge is being his witness not in word, but in conduct. That takes constant prayer, God’s grace and awareness of his presence through the Holy Spirit.
Have you accepted the offer of the resurrected Jesus to live in you, and have you been a witness to this fact?