|Jesus speaks here of others “giving us up,” putting us in positions where we will be called upon (even violently) to give witness to our faith in God. We think of this as being hauled before Caesar or in front of synagogues, but the fact is that such violent acts will happen to relatively few of us.
On the other hand, we face this inquisition more subtly many times each day, whether we are at work, at play, or even lying alone, sick in bed: we must witness to our faith, to our love for Jesus, His Father, and His Spirit, in every one of our choices. That witness is not necessarily directly to other people, even if most of the time it is, and often enough it can unfortunately have the unconscious negative reaction in those surrounding us of “Well, if that is a Catholic, I am certainly not interested.”
No, the most difficult part of that witnessing originates in the inmost recesses and hidden corners of our hearts: we choose to go this way or that, to let ourselves imagine something not godly – or we don’t, choosing instead to act in every way in every fiber of our being to be godly, grateful to God, as faithful as we can manage, knowing full well that we will never, in this world, be completely successful in handing our hearts to the Amazing Three who have loved us so well.
In making our choices for God, we are witnessing to our selves, and while we learn the tricks which we play on ourselves to avoid the gift of giving ourselves constantly and totally to God we also learn what our serious, loving attempts to turn ourselves completely over to God do to us. And in that transformation that God works in us as we seek Him comes a difference also in that witnessing to those others in our daily lives: the gifts of the Spirit, the fruits of the Spirit, and everything in between make us filled with inner peace, patience, generosity, purity, gentleness, and all the rest, and others can see how God is at work in us.
Today we are in the last week of the liturgical year, crunch time before we externally celebrate the Kingship of Jesus, the Lordship of our God. And God is asking us the question posed in a very ungrammatical but equally insistent manner in the old jazz song, “Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?” (Louis Jordan, 1946).
What is our response?