January 3

John 1:29-34

John the Baptist’s Testimony to Jesus

According to the book, Life of Francis d’Assisi, Francis once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to town to preach. Honored to be given the invitation, the monk readily accepted. All day long he and Francis walked through the streets, byways, and alleys, and even into the suburbs. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At day’s end, the two headed back home.  Not even once had Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the gospel. Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, “I thought we were going into town to preach.”

Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!

John the Baptist’s testimony of Jesus in today’s gospel is believable because it is above all a lived testimony. He is not a hypocrite and people know it. They flock to him because of the authenticity of his life. Even Pharisees come out to receive his baptism. His words are powerful and are listened to because he lives what he preaches.

And so therefore the life of a real Christian has to be authentic. We have to live what we preach. A major criticism of Christianity today is that Christians don’t live what they claim to believe. Gandhi said he would have become Christian if Christians had lived their beliefs. Sadly, too many of us fail to live up to the teachings of Jesus.

Why don’t we give testimony or witness to what we believe is true? Ron Hutchcraft (Wake Up Calls, Moody, 1990, p.30.) gave the reasons why. He said that:

  1. 90% have failed in witnessing attempts in the past
  2. They are biblically illiterate
  3. They leave it to the professionals
  4. We should not impose our faith on others

That is why Pope Paul VI which calls evangelization “the essential mission of the Church” said: “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one,” (1975 apostolic exhortation On Evangelization in the Modern World, Evangelii Nuntiandi no. 21).

How to be a witness? It is like this: we give witness when we attend daily Mass; organize a summer basketball league on inner-city playgrounds, though we may never speak of Christ, provided we visibly acts from religious motives; serve as Eucharist ministers; one who does pro bono legal work for an indigent client; volunteer as a retreat leader/facilitator; one who shovels an elderly neighbor’s sidewalk gives witness. Witness is letting your light shine.

See Today’s Readings: Year I,   Year II

See Other Homily Sources,

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