If the birth of the Son of God calls us to action, what action is that? Today we celebrate St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. His feast is in perfect placement for us. There is no time wasted by the Church to teach us how to take action: tell the good news.
What did John, one of our many models for that call on our lives, actually do? He spent time with Jesus. He watched Jesus and listened carefully to every word spoken by him. He didn’t use his personality or station in life or upbringing to distance himself from life with Jesus. And he allowed the teachings and presence of Jesus to change him. But the real action? He told the world what his relationship with Jesus meant to him and he shared insights gained through that relationship. Everywhere he went he told the Good News of salvation through God’s Only Begotten Son. Why did he do this? Because Jesus told him to.
John saw firsthand the life of Jesus and then proclaimed all that he saw. What about us? By the Grace of God, we have firsthand knowledge, as well. We see him in the consecrated bread and wine that, literally, becomes his Body and Blood. John saw and believed. Do we believe that God the Son is made manifest in the bread and wine at the Eucharistic Table? If we do, then our call to action is the same as for John: Proclaim the Good News wherever we go. The question remains: how?
God calls evangelists and missionaries to change the world in foreign countries or in our own (now) secular nation, much as John did. He calls some to be Priests, Deacons and Religious. But those called to such vocations are few in comparison to the number of people on earth, even to the number of those who believe in Him and His plan of salvation. As the Bible tells us, we are many parts of one Body.
So what is my part of the Body of Christ, and yours? Am I a hand, a foot, a mouth? We can only know the answer by seeking his face daily in prayer, by receiving him in the Eucharist often, by participating in the Sacraments, and by setting aside time to worship him. And then, we surrender to his will in our life, because we trust that his way is better than our way. He will lead. He will speak in many ways - to us directly in prayer and as we worship, through our Spiritual Director, or through a homily, to name a few ways. And then, we follow, knowing that my part of the Body is exactly who I am today. Then...from this spot, we proclaim the Good News. But, again, how?
Jesus tells us, “They will know you are my followers by your love for one another.” He says, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.” He did not say that the only way to proclaim his Good News was to go to a foreign country or be ordained, or to stand on the street corners calling out to passersby, “Jesus loves you!”
There is only one way people will see Jesus out and about in the world and that is through the way we live. It is not by how many inspirational books we give or even how many invitations we make to friends for Bible Study, though both actions could have a reasonable place in the plan. When we dedicate time to learn who Jesus is through the Gospels, when we allow him to change us, at least weekly if not more, through the Eucharist, when we take full advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we will become more like him. And when we are more like Jesus, people will see him and, hopefully, want to know him as we do.
I am a wife, mother, writer, and entrepreneur. Every day I have the opportunity to present Jesus through my spoken and written words, through actions of kindness and selflessness, and through my business leadership. If I want to proclaim the Good News in order that others may enjoy relationship with God that sin broke, then each day I must ask myself, “Did I walk the walk of my faith today?” And If I can say yes to that question at the end of the day, then I can rest with the knowledge that my life does proclaim the Good News, to the best I am able. I know He will take the small efforts of me, this little part of the Body of Christ, and use them for the best of those I have encountered. Because he loves them.
It is Christmas! Now let us allow the Christ Child to live through us. Perhaps next year many more will worship him in the manger because we lived what we see and believe.
How do the people in my life see Jesus living in me?