“A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him” – John 1:6-7
John the Baptist is single-minded in his mission. His only purpose is to testify to his faith in the coming Messiah, the light of the world. His testimony is like a light to others so that they might have faith in the coming Savior. He is to give witness to his faith so others “believe through him.” God has a purpose for him and he knows exactly what it is.
Anyone old enough to be familiar with the Baltimore Catechism remembers being taught that “God made me to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this life, and be happy with Him in the next.” Someone younger might have learned, “Desire for God is written on the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself” (Catechism of the Catholic Church). I learned the first set of words when I was confirmed. The second set I have repeated often to my students and my own children. Either wording works for me – I come from God, I live out a life of love and service because of God, and then I will return to God.
John had to decide how to give testimony to the coming of Jesus Christ, as do we all. His way meant baptizing in water, traveling and preaching, and eventually being martyred. Those who come before us teach us the way – perhaps not in the letter, but certainly in the spirit. I need to live my life with a hopeful, even joyous waiting for my faith and the faith of others to create God’s kingdom in the here and now. I also need to know that how I live my life will determine my place in the kingdom to come. Hopeful and joyous waiting seems to be exactly what Advent is meant to be for those of faith. However, being hopeful and joyous also means being certain and secure. Perhaps, that is where John and I differ sometimes.
I find myself wondering at times if I give testimony well enough, often enough, enough.
My witness is through the circumstances of my life. I am a wife and mother, building a family is the most creative thing I have ever done. My husband and sons and all my relatives know that I love them, no question or qualification. We love well – we don’t always agree, we get irritated, we forget to be grateful sometimes, but we love well.
I am a teacher, for 36 years I have worked with students on content, skills and faith development. Once in a while they tell me that my class and I have made a difference. When I don’t feel as if I do enough, I remind myself that I am living the life that God wants for me for He “put me in my place”– He loves me, and I am always “enough” to Him.
My family, teaching, and life in general, only works because of my faith in a good, loving God. To me, faith can’t be separated from family and relationships and the daily rhythms of my life. God in me and through me creates and sustains all that I am, even as I await the coming of my Savior. The Xaverian Brothers say it well – ‘everything with God, nothing without God.’ How do you give testimony of your faith through the circumstances of your life? What do you do to sustain a “hopeful and joyous waiting” during the Advent season?
Dear Lord, grant us the knowledge of your grace so that we may love and serve you to the best of our abilities.
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