Thursday, April 12, 2012

It doesn't mean what you think it means

Today's gospel ends with "You are witnesses of these things."

What is most interesting is to see how the meaning of the word witness has changed over time.

Every language borrows words from other languages. The English word witness refers to one having "wit" that is "knowledge" of an event. We have however, also kept the biblical Greek word for witness, but with a somewhat different meaning. The Greek word is martyr.

When we hear the word martyr we think of death. The word took on it's special meaning over time because a willingness to die for one's faith was seen as the ultimate testimony to one's faith. Again it bears repeating that for Christians martyrdom never meant killing someone else.

What all of this reminds us of is the fact that being a witness to our faith is not simply a matter of words. To be a true witness in the Christian sense requires both action and sacrifice. We give the clearest testimony by the example we live. If you were to look back, say, at yesterday, how would you evaluate the testimony you gave of the presence of Christ in your life?