As Witnesses We Are Called To Proclaim the Gospel
By Bishop David J. Malloy
In this Easter season, we are constantly reminded by the readings at Mass of the Church’s faith that we are one with Jesus and with His early followers. 
Time and again, we are told that Jesus not only appeared to Mary and the Apostles. He also told them that they were not simply accidental bystanders. Rather, they were to be “witnesses of these things” (Lk 24: 48). 
As witnesses, they were to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16: 15).
In this way, the faith was spread by God’s design. Jesus made use of the humanity of His followers. They were to find a way to witness and convince the world. Often that was done by the very sacrifice of the lives of His witnesses, so convinced were they of the message they conveyed.
It is precisely that first act of witness that has been passed down to us, generation after generation. And now, as is true in every age, it is our turn to witness. 
One of the elements of our faith, however, is that we are never alone in our witnessing. Christ walks with us. 
He has given to the Church the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that even in our weakness we will never fail. 
We are united to those who have gone before us in time. Their witness has laid the foundation for us, and their prayers assist us even now.
Two events of recent weeks make real for us both the enduring value of the witness of faith as well as our union with the Church throughout time and everywhere in the world.
The first event was the recent fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. That conflagration provoked a remarkable reaction of concern and prayer as recorded by press photos and stories. 
In a very secularized country like France, some of the reaction could be attributed to the loss of a famous monument, what has become for some almost a museum.
However, the very existence of Notre Dame, the tremendous expense and sacrifice of labor and love that went into its construction eight centuries ago was itself an act of witness. 
The image and the architecture of that soaring structure was as if in a permanent and glorious way the hands of the faithful were upraised to God sending their prayers to heaven itself.
That fire destroyed a place that housed tremendous works of art and love for God such as stained glass windows. But it destroyed as well the place where countless members of the faithful, many poor and long forgotten, visited and dropped to their knees to offer their prayers and the faith of their lives. 
All of us, in faith, are one with all who ever visited that sacred structure.
The second moment of witness in recent weeks was the horrific bombings on Easter Sunday morning in Sri Lanka. Hundreds were killed, many in Catholic churches that were packed with worshippers at Easter Mass.
Their suffering and death was yet another reminder that witness to the faith has always meant sacrifice. By dying at Mass they were witnessing to Jesus and to His resurrection. 
Since, however, we are joined to them by the unity of the Church, we are reminded that our own witnessing has not yet reached that level of sacrifice. It should embolden us to embrace the challenges and sometimes rejection of our own increasingly secularized society as we witness to Jesus.
The world needs to know of Jesus, His teaching, His death and His resurrection. We are to be witnesses of these things. We are to proclaim the Gospel to every creature.