Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11; Luke 1:46-50,53-54 (Responsorial Psalm); 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8,19-2)
Advent: A Time to Testify to the Light of Christ, Not a Time to Quench the Spirit
“He came … to testify to the light” (John 1:7) .
How many times have you watched a TV courtroom drama? A witness takes the stand and promises to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Our job is to figure out who the credible witness is.
For the people who came to be baptized by John in the Jordan River, there was no question that John was telling the truth. Here was a credible witness, someone many considered a prophet—and maybe even the Messiah! But in today’s Gospel, John has a different testimony. First, he testifies that he is not the Messiah. Neither is he Elijah or “the Prophet” promised by Moses (John 1:21). Then he testifies to Jesus, “whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie” (1:27).
John may have been Jesus’ first witness, but countless others have followed in his footsteps—and you can too! Your testimony is important. It may even lead someone to decide to follow Jesus. We should always be ready to share our stories whenever the opportunity arises. And it doesn’t take a lot of work to get ready!
First, set a timer for three minutes. Then write down some ways in which you have experienced Jesus working in your life. Be specific: This is where I was then; this is what was missing in my life. Now, this is where I am; this is what my life is like—and it’s all because of the grace of God. Don’t limit your story to one initial experience of conversion, either. Talk about any situation in which you have sensed God speaking to you and leading you.
Stories like these demonstrate that it is possible to have a living and loving relationship with God. As you share them over time, people’s hearts can change. Like John the Baptist, you too can “make straight the way” for the Lord to enter people’s lives (John 1:23)!
“Jesus, I want to be a credible witness for you! Give me the right words to say. Help me to live in a way that testifies to your light within me.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- We know that Jesus applied Isaiah 61:1-2 (the first reading) to his own ministry in the synagogue atNazareth. Jesus was anointed by the Spirit “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.” Do you believe that you, as a Catholic man, are also anointed by the Spirit to do the same? If so, in what ways have you experienced the Holy Spirit’s anointing “to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners”?
- How does the Magnificat of Mary in Luke 1:46-54 (from the responsorial psalm) reflect Mary’s unique anointing by the Holy Spirit? What part of it applies to us as Catholic men?
- In the second reading, St. Paul exhorts all of us to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). At first glance this may seem impossible, especially if we try to do it on our strength apart from an anointing of the Holy Spirit. Relying on the Holy Spirit’s power as your source of strength, what steps can you take to make these words of Paul a greater reality in your life?
- St. Paul goes on to further exhort us with these words: “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We know that we are all capable of quenching the Spirit. What are some of the tendencies in your life that can quench the Spirit? How can you combat these tendencies, so that you can give the Spirit free reign in your life?
- In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist is called by God to “make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). In what ways are we called to do the same as Catholic men?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Your testimony is important. It may even lead someone to decide to follow Jesus. We should always be ready to share our stories whenever the opportunity arises.” How ready are you to share how Jesus has touched your life, “whenever the opportunity arises”? What steps, outlined in the meditation, could you take to increase your readiness?
- Take some time now to pray that this Advent would be a special time of grace for you to “testify” to your family and others of the coming of Christ into your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.