“He (Jesus) commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.” (v. 42)
In this verse and the longer passage we read on Easter, St. Luke uses a few key words for us as Dominicans. Of course, there is the word preach, which is at the heart of our mission as the Order of Preachers. Then there is testify. We preach through our testimony, proclaiming what we have seen and heard and know to be true. Finally, the word witness is used three times in this passage. In the passage, St. Peter reminds the people that they are witnesses of all that Jesus did; therefore, they are called to bear witness to the truth.
Last month, I visited Lima, Peru, home of three of our great Dominican saints: St. Martin de Porres, St. Rose of Lima, and St. Juan Macias. Since none of the three were ordained, it is unlikely that they preached from a pulpit. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t preach! They preached with their lives, and in their interactions with all they met. Martin, Rose, and Juan witnessed to the Gospel through their loving service to their neighbor and their devotion to prayer. I can’t imagine that anyone who met these saints doubted their love and devotion to the Risen Lord.
As Dominicans, we are called to preach the Word of God at all times. We proclaim the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, that he is alive and is present to us today, calling all people into relationship with him. We preach this in many ways: from pulpits, in classrooms, hospitals, and prisons. We preach in our homes and work places, in marketplaces and athletic fields, and many other places we frequent. Primarily we all preach through the witness of our lives. We model our lives after the life of Jesus, and witness through our lives of truth and integrity, through our examples of mercy and forgiveness, and by courageously speaking for justice and peace. Our words will ring hollow if we don’t practice what we preach!
So be filled with joy this Easter day!
The power of sin and death have been destroyed forever!
Go out and preach this good news through the witness of your lives!