Called to Testify to the Light

I often am nourished by the reflections of Kayla McClurg on scripture readings, and her commentary on today’s Gospel from John was no exception.

On this third Sunday of Advent, we hear John’s account of the testimony of John the Baptist, who “was not the light, but came to testify to the light.”

McClurg observes

We are told that John himself was not the light . . . BUT — notice the compound sentence, each part having equal weight — BUT “he came to testify to the light.” Lest we be tempted to make our permanent home in who we are not, in the small cramped space of low expectations and limited responsibility, the second half of the sentence clarifies the first. It calls me out from the shadows and gives me my own significant part to play. I am not the light, but I am called to testify to the light. To testify is to tell my truth, the whole truth, to be held accountable for what I know and see. I am a witness to the light. I have watched it shine in my very own darkness.

As we reflect on John the Baptist, who for me is one of the great Advent figures, we need to remember that we are called to do exactly as John did. Not, in McClurg’s words “by trying to be light, not by trying to create an illusion of light”, but by “tell[ing] my truth, the whole truth,” by being a witness to the light.

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2 thoughts on “Called to Testify to the Light

  1. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful reflection. . .

    “Truth” is such a weighty word – especially when attempting to share the “whole truth”. . .

    Many a Catholic struggles with the many labels of ‘sinner’ and reminders of one’s ‘brokenness’ that punctuate so many homilies. Imagine the expressions of those in our personal circles of family or friends who have left the faith, are of another faith or are non-believers when suggesting there is ‘one path’ to the ‘whole truth’. . .

    Many non-Catholics, especially young adults, strive to live by the ‘Golden Rule’ and a ‘do unto others. . .’ code of behavior. Many struggle to believe a ‘broken, sinful soul’ is one who regularly goes to confession to recount their white lies told, moments they were disrespectful or inconsiderate, took the larger piece of dessert for themselves, and god forbid took advantage of a rule or regulation – while those in positions of authority in the Catholic Church turned a blind eye to years and years of sexual abuse and rape. . .

    Couple that with the Catholic assertion that society is returning to pagan ways by allowing abortion, contraceptives and not doing more to restrain the break-up of families – and a doctrine preached of ‘God’s Mercy’ being the hope of salvation for those who were still born, have never heard the name of Jesus, are devout non-Catholic Christians or non believers. Many Popes must answer for more ‘sins’ committed than the majority of God’s children.

    Imagine how St. Andrew must feel. Many say he introduced his brother Peter to Jesus, preached the ‘good news’ as Jesus requested and ordained bishops as did his brother – and established the Orthodox Church. A church that today is not recognized as part of the lineage from Christ. ‘Truth’ be told, how long would it take Jesus to reconcile the minor differences that separate these two Catholic faiths? . . .

    Jesus’ loving message of forgiveness, hope and transformation is all too often lost in testifying to the “whole truth” and “being a witness to the light.”

  2. Thank you Susan!
    This is such good news – that we each have purpose, that God wants us to be who we really are, and to avoid “making our permanent home in who we are not” as you put so well! This is so uplifting for such a dreary day!!

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