Friday, December 16, 2022
John 5:33 - 36
Go Beyond “Practicing”
“John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s.” (John 5:35–36)
It’s relatively easy to be a content “practicing Christian.” Go to Church every Sunday, say my prayers, contribute to the offertory collection, be kind to others, fast as necessary — knowing God loves me. It makes us feel good, and it is all good — a great initial step in a relationship with God. However, Jesus calls us to go beyond “practicing” to being an “Intentional Disciple.” He witnesses to us a wholistic sacrificial giving – he gave all that he possessed (material and spiritual) as a sacrificial offering to the Father. He shows us how it can be done and promises that we will experience immense joy if we do so.
An intentional disciple goes beyond prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. An intentional disciple decides to follow Jesus, no matter the cost. This means taking the message of the Gospel and living it out. It is courageous to take up the challenge of the Gospel and steadfastly live it out because it requires sacrifice beyond our comfort zone. It isn’t easy, but by courageously living the Gospel, we can encounter the immense love, joy, and mercy of God.
It’s not too late! Advent is a time when practice can turn into intentional. Where practice can turn into living courageously the Gospel! Take a step… begin by selecting a passage or teaching of Christ in the Gospel and live it out fully. For example, “For when I was naked, and you clothed me, ill, and you cared for me, in prison, and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:36)
Think about someone who may need help being clothed … physically it might be an elderly person who has trouble bending or stretching and putting on their socks or assisting them in changing out their shirt. Visit them and assist them with something simple but courageous… Do you know someone who is homebound or imprisoned with grief? Take the time out of your busy schedule and be with them. These simple acts are a profound testimony to your love for God. And through a courageous, even if simple, act of living out the Gospel, you will be able to grow deeper in your relationship with God and with others.
Most Holy Father in Heaven, I desire to have a deep and personal relationship with you. Please open my mind and heart to You more fully this Advent season so that I can turn from all fading and passing lights of this world and come to the one and profound Light of Your loving Heart. Help me to Courageously live the Gospel.
Sunday Reading Prep
Review and reflect on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent. What message is Jesus trying to share with us? How can we use his teachings to follow Him more faithfully?
Reading I Isaiah 7:10-16
Reading II Romans 1:1-7
Gospel Matthew 1:18-25
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.