Mary and Joseph by Hans Pleydenwurff
From ancient pagan rituals to parades in the Red Square of the past, May 1 is full of history. The best context to understand today’s Scripture is the phrase, “May Day,” that universal distress warning, which actually comes from the French venez m’aider or “Come, help me.” The readings today call for help – God’s grace so you may be a sure witness.
“To tell the truth, whole and nothing but” are familiar courtroom words that usher us into that witness of the first apostles of Acts 5 and the Beloved Disciple’s assurance that our witness, if bold and prayerful, will be supplied by the Lord who does not ration out the Spirit lightly and will lead us to eternal life. (John 3 is worth reading in its entirety from Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus to the memorable “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” and John the Baptist’s final witness to Jesus.)
Early in his pontificate, Pope Francis called us to give ourselves and the Gospel to others and so declare ourselves witnesses to the new evangelization. One without the other is incomplete. Giving only the self moves easily into narcissism or burnout. The Gospel proclaimed without living witness is sterile. Because God generously provides the grace to give both ourselves and the Gospel – remember, “God does not ration his gift of the Spirit” – our lives more clearly proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
May is about the cloud of witnesses who accompany Jesus and about us who want to join them. Two of these witnesses stand close on May 1: Mary our Mother, whose month this is, and St. Joseph, the silent worker, whose witness was not in words but in action.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
(Reprinted with permission. Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, May 2014