ColumnsNaming Grace

Testify to the light

 At an Advent retreat, Maria, mother of 12 living children, testified to the light. She spoke to the importance of listening and responding to the voice of God, which “is beautifully demanding—he asks us to give all.” She encouraged us to obey and act, for “Jesus rewards the giving of even a cup of water.” Maria testifies to Jesus by serving countless cups each day: water, milk, love, hugs, kindness, encouragement, compassion and discipline. Maria’s presence radiates an inner peace while juggling two toddlers on her lap and addressing several children vying for her attention. In the midst of busy days and endless work, she joyfully testifies to the light.

The third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, reflects on John the Baptist’s role in salvation history. John was not the light but lived to testify to the light, Jesus. John’s voice declared truth, and his testimony echoes through the ages due to his martyrdom. Discipleship demands our lives, whether prophet or parent.

At baptism, a cup of water poured out unleashes abundant and everlasting life in Christ—if we respond. Mere drops commissioned us “to walk always as a child of the light.” Dabs of fragrant oil strengthened us to testify to the light. Our lives are meant to burn brightly for others—no matter our vocation or stage of life: the single mom who places her needs last while raising her daughter in the faith, the divorced father who travels every single weekend to be present with his children at Mass, the single person who regularly carves out sacred space for his or her nieces and nephews, the religious who spends a lifetime working with children in poverty, the ordained who dedicates his entire life to give us Jesus in the sacraments.

As parents/grandparents, we testify to the light each time we offer a cup of living water. We testify when offering a cup of compassion to son a brokenhearted over being cut from the team, a cup of encouragement to a daughter downhearted from a rejection of a “friend,” a cup of mercy to a child imprisoned by fear, a cup of tenderness to a spouse suffering from an illness, a cup of rest to a spouse after a hard day at work, a cup of welcome to friend or stranger. We testify to the light each time we put another before ourselves.

The spirit of the Lord rests upon Maria, as she lays down her life—day in and day out. When complimented on her beautiful family, Maria deflects the attention, points up and whispers, “It’s all him. It’s all him.” Maria, and her husband, Bob, testify to the light each Sunday as child after child slide into the front pew, kneel and worship at Mass. I can’t imagine life is always easy for Maria, but her life is good and bears rich fruit.

As we light the third candle of Advent, we wisely remember that to testify to the light demands our very lives—one cup at a time. As we approach the eucharistic table this Sunday and drink from the cup of salvation, may we remember the cost of one small cup—the blood of our Savior. It’s all him! It’s all him! He is the reason we rejoice, and with Mary, proclaim his greatness—testifying to the light! Now, that’s good news!

How will you listen more attentively to God’s voice?

How is God calling you to a deeper discipleship?