This year’s events have highlighted an urgent need for you and I to be Christ’s presence in others’ lives.
Our loved ones, neighbors, co-workers, and the few other persons with whom we have regular contact; have likely had very few experiences of the Church in 2020—or of Christians’ model of following Christ in the context of daily life. Perhaps, too, those few experiences have included news about Church scandals and abuse, with subsequent feelings of betrayal.
The Importance of a Witness
Now, you and I are not bystanders. We are Christ’s very witnesses.
If you’ve ever been present for a jury trial—especially for a criminal case—you’ll know the importance of a witness. It is that person’s testimony upon which at least one other person’s life can be changed forever. Their every word is precious, documented. Their gestures, their voice, and their intangible sense of conviction are remembered by all those present in the room.
These qualities also apply to the testimony of you and I to Christ, because we are Christ-ians. Thankfully, we are witnesses to Good News. But how often do we see it that way?
Victory of a King
Mark, who was the first gospel writer chronologically, began this way:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
You might know that the word “gospel” means “good news” or “glad tidings,” but did you know that in Mark’s time, this word was used to declare the victory of a king?
Not only was Mark’s use of this word extremely bold—placing Jesus of Nazareth in higher esteem than the Roman emperor—but it also reveals to us Mark’s conviction about Jesus. His testimony was about a victorious King, the Son of God. When we read his Gospel, we see Jesus’ swiftness and power conveyed; which is partially why Mark’s Gospel is symbolized by a mighty lion.
How would you and I begin our “Gospel according to (Your Name Here)”? What would our story convey about how we relate to Jesus?
In reality, daily life is the parchment upon which we ‘write’ this Gospel; with our words and actions.
Your Testimony is Powerful
“Be who God meant you to be,” wrote the Italian saint Catherine of Siena in a letter, “and you will set all of Italy ablaze.”
That is the power of your testimony of life.
Your story is unique.
- What is your name?
- Where and who did you come from?
- How did your life begin?
- What struggles have you endured?
- When did you truly encounter God?
- Who is Jesus to you?
- How has knowing Christ changed your life?
The Mystifying Truth that Christmas Celebrates
Christmas celebrates the unfathomable reality that Almighty God also has a name, a face, a family, was raised in a community, lived, ate, slept, wept, smiled, and yes—suffered, died, and rose victoriously from death.
God’s love “will be victorious over even the worst infidelities and will extend to his most precious gift: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 219; cf. John 3:16).
Although 2020 has been a time of trial, pain, suffering, and death; we are reminded by Christmas 2020 that Christ took on flesh out of tremendous love for the world. That means you. That means us. His love is victorious over all trials, all pain & suffering, and even over death. In his love, we find life, truth, goodness, and beauty.
This Christmas Season and into 2021, let us recover the Good News and approach Jesus again. May we reflect on our lives in the light of God’s love, and remember that each day we are Christ’s witnesses.
Angela Sealana is Media Coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular print column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that answers Christ’s call by guiding people to encounter Him through pilgrimages, conferences and outreach. Read the column monthly in Today’s Catholic newspaper.
Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are a few tips that will help you and your family:
Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Display the Wreath and/or calendar on your dining table or a prominent place as a reminder to pray with the family.
Spend time in prayer: make an appointment with God – a commitment to spend time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration or a commitment to pray the Rosary with Mary. John Paul II said “Praying the Rosary is contemplating the face of Jesus with Mary.”
Light a candle before an image of the Blessed Virgin, during meals or while praying the Rosary.
Take up a book during Advent – find a book on spirituality, on Mary, or other topic that can be read before Christmas.
Place a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out the empty manger, some of the animals. Place some statues from your Nativity nearby, such as the Shepherd, Mary and Joseph, sheep and other animals. Each week, you can move the statues a little closer.
Participate in your parish’s Advent/Christmas Giving projects such as “adopt a family”, “give gifts to the needy” or make home visits to the elderly and homebound in your parish.
Suggest children, grandchildren or nieces/nephews to write a letter to Jesus instead of Santa.
Give children a piece of straw to place in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters,
through the paschal mystery
we have been buried with Christ in baptism,
so that we may walk with him in newness of life.
And so, let us renew the promises of Holy Baptism,
by which we once renounced Satan and his works
and promised to serve God in the holy Catholic Church.
And so I ask you:
Do you renounce sin,
so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
Do you reject the lure of evil,
so that sin my have no mastery over you?
Do you reject Satan,
the author and prince of sin?
Do you believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ,
his only Son, our Lord,
who was born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered death and was buried,
rose again from the dead,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting?
And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
who has given us new birth
by water and the Holy Spirit,
and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins,
keep us by his grace,
in Christ Jesus our Lord,
for eternal life.
(C) Text of the Renewal of Baptismal Promises from the New Roman Missal, 3rd Edition.
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