A couple of years ago, in 2011, the government finally caught Whitey Bulger. Whitey Bulger just happened to be one of America’s Most Wanted for a number of years. He was a local gang leader in the underground in the 70’s and 80’s in Boston. The government had him on charges of multiple murders, racketeering, drug trafficking, extortion, and other crimes. Now, there’s a big problem with catching someone like that 30 years after all the crimes, someone who was is able to hide and be on the run for 20 years, with so many connections and people paid off or killed. And it’s so long after the crimes that people forget, it’s hard to find witnesses and get the evidence you need. Unless … unless you get an insider who turns. And that’s what they got.
Kevin Weeks was the right-hand man for Whitey Bulger who turned to the other side to testify. He was there for most of the killings and torturings and the other horrific actions, and could even describe the attitude, the moods, the spirit of Whitey Bulger. So, the whole court gets first-hand, eye-witness testimony about the criminal actions of Mr. Bulger. A few days ago, Whitey Bulger was sentenced to 2 life sentences on counts of murdering 11 people, among other things. It was because of the testimony of his right-hand man who converted sides.
That’s the power in a single testimony, when a right-hand-man converts. It can take down the un-take-down-able.
I spent some time with a Franciscan community several years ago. One day, one of the friars and I were hitchhiking, and we got picked up by a guy in a black car. He opened the door and invited us in. OK, we said. So, we get in and the music is really loud, and here’s this guy in a black jacket, with black shades on. When I got in, he said, “My name is RJ.” I said, “Hi, RJ, I’m Jerome.” And that began a little conversation, which of course centered on, who re you guys and why are you hitchhiking in wool robes and bald heads and long beards. So, I began to tell him about some of my past. My addictions, my alcohol drinking, my sexual addictions, and the other stuff I used to do. First, he turned the music down. As I continued to share more, he took off his glasses and I could see into his eyes. Finally, he reached out his hand and said, “I’m Richard.” Now I knew his name. He said, “I was going to stop a few miles up ahead. But, you know what? I’m going to take you guys to where you’re looking to go. I like you guys.” It was like the darkness got a life sentence. Like he came alive again.
That’s what happens when you’ve got someone who was a right-hand-man for a lot of dark stuff, someone on the good side who knows all the details of what it’s like.
That’s the power of a single testimony.
The Gospels these weeks are about the darkness and catastrophe at the end times. But Jesus says there’s a special role for His disciples in these times. That’s why He didn’t come for the just. He came for sinners. He comes for people who know what it’s like to be the right-hand-man for the bad. He comes so that when all the darkness looks overwhelming and looks like the world is falling apart, there are people on the good side who can say, “I know what it’s like. I know the details. I lived it.” To give people hope and to be a light in the midst of that darkness, and to take down the un-take-down-able.
Whatever darkness you have in your life, whatever bad you think you’ve done, if you’ve been a right-hand-man for the wrong stuff, you’re in a great place. Don’t be afraid, bring it to God, because you can do great things with that experience.
You can give people hope and be a light in the midst of their darkness.
And finally take it down.
That’s the power of a single testimony.
“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.” (Lk 21:12-15)