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Gospel reflection

December 17, 2023: Third Sunday of Advent

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?”

He said: “I am the voice of one  crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’” as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.


Again, this week, John the Baptist is the central focus of our Gospel. And, his stated mission is fundamental to his identity: namely, it is to testify or to bear witness to the Light, i.e., Jesus. His primary role, then, is not as one who baptizes but as one who testifies to the light coming into the world, the light that dispels the darkness. John humbly articulates his identity in connection to Jesus’ identity. His words cause me to ask if I can make similar claims about my purpose? Can I respond to the question who are you with the same identification with God and all that God wants me to be? Can I locate my identity as intimately with Jesus as John did?

The coming of Jesus, the Light, into the world is cause for rejoicing as he removes darkness from the world. We should be glad and rejoice also because, like John we, too, are chosen to bear witness to the Light of the world. We are to reflect Jesus’ Light in our lives so that we may joyfully radiate it and illuminate the dark lives of others around us.


I invite you to read, pray and reflect on Jan Richardson’s “Blessed Are You Who Bear The Light,” which can be accessed here.

In these remaining weeks of Advent, perhaps we can think about how we can use our identity to glorify God. We might want to consider some specific ways we can use our uniqueness to bring others to Jesus. And possibly we can ask God to strengthen that sense of mission in our  lives and give us the grace to live it.

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Linda McMahon

Linda McMahon

Originally from Philadelphia, Linda had a 25-year career as a navy nurse. She then served as a parish adult faith formation coordinator, an on-call hospital chaplain and a hospice bereavement specialist. A Providence Associate since 2007, Linda lives in San Clemente, California with her husband, Randy, and their 2 cats.

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  1. Avatar Paula Damiano, SP on December 14, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Thank you, Linda. I am always so moved by Jan Richardson’s piece….thanks for including it. Advent/Christmas blessings!

  2. Avatar Linda Doyle PA on December 21, 2023 at 5:15 pm

    A song we sang in Sunday school . this little light of mine ..I’m going to let it shine..🎼🎼
    Shine all over Linda McMahon and Randy plus the cute cats 🐯🐯 their going to let it shine 😎😎😎 Merry Christmas ! And thanks for your blessing .

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