What’s Your Story?

Sunday February 6, 2022, The Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Testimony

Psalm 138:1-8Isaiah 6:1-81 Corinthians 15:1-11Luke 5:1-11

One of the most effective means of evangelism is a testimony. Notable testimonies in the Bible, belong to the apostle Paul (Acts 22:6-21), the martyr Stephen (Acts 7: 1-53), and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42). If you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, you should have one too. Yes? No? Not Sure? Let’s do a little review about testimonies in order to create one of your own or strengthen the one you have.

All personal testimonies have three elements: life before Jesus, how you met Jesus, and life with Jesus now. “Wait a minute,” you say, “I’m Catholic. We come to Jesus through the sacraments. This all sounds so very Protestant to me.” Let me refer you to the article, Are Catholics Born Again? on Catholic Bridge, www.catholicbridge.com. It explains the all-important second conversion that completes the sacrament of Baptism as described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1428-1430) and Make a Commitment to Jesus. Read it and you’ll understand the words of Pope Benedict XVI in Dues Caritas Est (1) 2006:

“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

Christian testimonies vary as much as Ben And Jerry ice cream flavors. Some are dramatic accounts in which believers credit their conversion experience for taking them out of a life of drugs, alcohol, crime, and other sordid activities. Others are the plainer vanilla of a slow emergence of divine realizations. Either and all are significant. The importance of it all is to show how your personal encounter with the risen Lord has changed your life for the better here and now, and forever. Your testimony will also extend the same offer of forgiveness of sin and new life in Christ to anyone who would want to come to Him. You see, all of mankind is travelling down the same sin highway to hell. There is a gospel off ramp up ahead. Your testimony is the road sign that guides people to the exit. It’s the story about Jesus and you…but mostly Jesus.

Since three of today’s readings have a testimony in common, I’ve broken down their different experiences into a Q & A in order to help you to formulate a personal testimony of your own or perhaps, improve the one you have.

QUESTION #1 What was your life like before Jesus? (Jehovah for Isaiah the Old Testament prophet)

APOSTLE PAULI persecuted the Church. I was a Pharisee of Pharisees.
ST. PETERI was a hardworking and hard swearing fisherman trying to scratch out a living.
  PROPHET ISAIAHI hid behind my church mask but did not reveal my true self to others. I was religious and constantly learning, but never coming to the truth.

QUESTION #2 What kept you from coming to Jesus?

  APOSTLE PAULI didn’t need a “savior” I was self-righteous and blameless in keeping the Law. I did not believe His claims that he was the Messiah.
ST. PETERI was too sinful for Jesus to be around me. Totally unworthy.
  PROPHET ISAIAHI did not want my sins to be found out. I went to church on Sunday and lived like the world during the week.

QUESTION #3 What changed your mind about Jesus?

APOSTLE PAULHe revealed Himself to me on the road to Damascus.
ST. PETERI believed that He was the Son of God when I saw the miraculous catch of fish.
  PROPHET ISAIAHGod appeared to me on His throne in His Holiness. My righteousness was rags before Him. I was undone!

QUESTION #4 What made you choose Jesus over anyone else?

  APOSTLE PAULHow do you argue with a blinding light and a voice from Heaven? In reality, He chose me!
  ST. PETERI heard His words. I saw His deeds. My brother Andrew also testified that he was the Messiah.

QUESTION #5 What happened when you believed?

APOSTLE PAULI became a new man in Christ. My name was changed from Saul to Paul.
ST. PETERMy sins were forgiven, and I was accepted into His family. I became an Apostle.
  PROPHET ISAIAHMy mouth was touched with one of God’s burning altar coals and my sins were forgiven.

QUESTION #6 What surprised you or made you happiest about Jesus?

  APOSTLE PAULMy salvation is free and sure in Jesus. I don’t have to struggle to be good enough to merit heaven.
  ST. PETERI can face the future without fear because I have confidence in Christ in this world and for the next.
PROPHET ISAIAHI am astonished that I am able to stand in the Holy presence of God!

QUESTION #7 What was your greatest joy in coming to Jesus?

APOSTLE PAULForgiveness freely given!
  ST. PETERI am forgiven 70 x 7 times. My sin is removed as far as the east is from the west!
PROPHET ISAIAHI am forgiven…not fried!

QUESTION #8 Name three benefits that you have received in Christ?

APOSTLE PAULI have a born-again nature. I am a child of God, and I am heaven bound.
  ST. PETERI don’t swear like I used to. I have found brothers in Christ amongst the Gentiles. My experiences and failures help me to encourage others to be believers in Jesus.
  PROPHET ISAIAHI can serve God in this life. I have a purpose worth dying for. I have seen Jehovah high and lifted up!

QUESTION #9 What is your life like now that you have received Jesus?

APOSTLE PAULGod made me an Apostle to the Gentiles.
ST. PETERI am a fisher of men for Christ.
PROPHET ISAIAHGod commissioned me…me of all people, to be a prophet to Israel.

QUESTION #10 What would you tell your best friend about Jesus?

APOSTLE PAULBelieve in the Lord, Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
ST. PETERHe is the Christ, the Son of the living God!
PROPHET ISAIAHThough your sin may be scarlet, you can be white as snow!

QUESTION #11 What would you say about Jesus to someone on the fence?

APOSTLE PAULFor me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
ST. PETERHe is the Way, The Truth, and The Life! There is salvation in no other name!
PORPHET ISAIAHAll is laid bare before Him. Confess your sin and repent before the Judgment!

Now you have a template of sorts to build your testimony. I hope it helps you to express your Jesus story, not forgetting that your story is His story as well. Witness to others about the wonderful transformation that faith in Christ can bring. Do it in love to whomever and whenever the situation allows it. The whole Christian church throughout history is really just one big daisy chain of people reaching out to others with their personal gospel story about the saving power of Jesus and His cross. Our last reading today, Psalm 138, offers up praise and thanksgiving to God for His loving-kindness. How appropriate.

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