We are his witnesses

A Gospel Enquiry 


If Joseph Cardijn was alive today, he would be impressed with Dr Elizabeth Mitchell’s detailed analysis of the New Testament references to the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. When he wrote his reflection on his visit to England in 1910 to speak with Ben Tillett, one of the leaders of the 1889 Great Dock Strike, he provided details relating to the working conditions and the support of workers by unions. His reflection was written some fifty years after his visit and it illustrates the importance he placed on the facts to be observed in situations that require our attention and action. 

It is my intention here to draw your attention to the need for action to bring about the kingdom of God on earth. When Jesus reminds his followers that they are his witnesses, it is not to his resurrection but to the work of his mission that they witness. He stated clearly at the commencement of his ministry that his mission was to those who needed God’s saving grace … and his followers are his instruments, not only back then in that room in Jerusalem, but also now and until the end of time. 

We are his witnesses and he calls us to be his instruments of salvation in a broken and suffering world. 


The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’ (Luke 24:35-48)

The Enquiry 


  • Read the Gospel story a few times to familiarise yourself with the elements of the story and the sequence of the elements. Create a summary of the story by listing the actions in sequence. Have you ever had an experience of God allaying your fears by helping you to see your life in the context of Jesus’ mission?   
  • Why does Jesus return to Jerusalem after his resurrection? What does this tell you about him? About God?   
  • What has happened in history and in the world because Jesus remains committed to his followers?  


  • Look again at the summary you have made. What sense do you make out of this Gospel event? How is your journey of faith reflected in your summary and, more importantly, in the account given by Luke? 
  • Follow the gaze of the disciples: their attention is given completely to the risen Christ, their leader, who has not abandoned them. What does Jesus say to them that signals the purpose of his return?    
  • Think of your faith as a structure or shape. Describe it for yourself (and for others, too, hopefully). Imagine this Gospel as a power to change that shape or structure. If you let that power loose in your life, what will change?


  • Think about what Jesus did when he carried out his mission in the Promised Land. Where in the world you experience does the coming of God’s Kingdom need to be announced in deed and in word? Choose one aspect to be the focus of your prayer (“Your kingdom come, your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”).
  • What small action can you take that will contribute to the coming of God’s Kingdom on earth? When and where will you carry out the action and how often? 
  • Who can you involve in your action and how, when and how often will you get them to participate in your action?

Author: Pat Branson 

Image Source: Fr Lawrence Lew, OP (Creator), Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED