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Third Week of Advent – Friday – Living the faith that we preach

Friday, December 16, 2011

Today’s Gospel enlightens us on two major points: all our efforts in preaching God’s message should lead to Christ and the best way of conveying that message is by example.

It is a common thing today - as it was in the past - that some people are highly gifted in preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Through different gifts and talents, they become famous preachers and illustrious public speakers. John the Baptist was a good preacher. Jesus himself talks of him as “a burning and shining light [and people] were willing for a reason to rejoice in his light.” (Jn 5:35).

Today's gospel reminds us that it is always good to look beyond the shining stars and recognize the work of God in them. Otherwise we focus on those stars and we are blinded by their light. It is like looking at the finger that is trying to show us great mysteries.

The second point is that as much as we might be brilliant, unrivalled preachers, if that is not translated in our lives, it is empty. John the Baptist himself knew that. He wanted people's conversion to be translated into actions. God's words are sweet. And we might even pretend to make them sweeter to people’s ears when we use more sophisticated and highly intellectual terms. But they need to be accompanied by deeds that prove that we live what we preach. How could we convince people of things we do not live out? Jesus said: "The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me." (Jn 5:36). We know that most of the disciples who followed Christ did not grasp fully his message but were amazed by his deeds: his compassion towards the excluded and those who were rejected by his religion, his compassion towards the hungry and the sinners. Most of the time his message appeared clearly to contradict his religion's laws. But his deeds were obviously divine to his followers that they could not see them otherwise.

Concluding I would say that today's gospel also invites us to recognise the work of God in those other people we seldom consider as messengers of God: those who do not share our way of thinking, those who do not share our religious beliefs and those who do sometimes even oppose our faith. God's ways being mysterious, God can use anyone, any time, anywhere to make the Good news reach our hearts. We only need to open our eyes and our hearts.

May this Advent help us to focus more on our Lord and Saviour and less on ourselves and our successes. May it help us to recognise God's hand in other people's words and deeds.

By Br Gustave Ineza OP

Gustave Ineza OP


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