By Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
1/8.3 Our role as witnesses and precursors. Apostolate with the people around us.
We are not only precursors, we are also witnesses to Christ. Together with the grace of Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the honourable duty of making our faith in Christ known through our words and our deeds. In order to enable us to carry out this mission, we receive frequently, even daily, the divine food of the Body of Christ. His priests lavish sacramental grace on us and instruct us with the teaching of the divine Word.
All that has been given to us is so much greater than John himself had, that Jesus could say: The least in the kingdom of God is greater than John. However, what a difference! Jesus is just about to arrive, and John’s whole reason for living is to be the Precursor. We are witnesses of what He came to do; but what sort of witnesses are we? What is our Christian testimony like amongst our colleagues and our families? Is it forceful enough to convince those who do not yet believe in Jesus? Those who do not love Him? Those who have mistaken ideas about Him? Is our life a proof, or does it at least point to the likelihood of the truth of Christianity? These questions could help us to live this Advent, so that it is not devoid of apostolic meaning.
Behold the Lord will come ... John knows that God is preparing something very great, something for which he is to be the instrument; and he himself points in the direction that the Holy Spirit shows him. We know much more now about what it was that God had in mind for humanity. We know Christ and His Church, we have the sacraments. The doctrine of salvation has been perfectly marked out for us ... We know that the world needs Christ to reign, we know that the happiness and salvation of all mankind depend on Him. We have Christ Himself; the same Christ whom John the Baptist knew and announced.
We are witnesses and precursors. We have to bear witness and at the same time we have to show others the way. Our responsibility is great, because to be Christ’s witnesses implies first and foremost that we should try to live our lives according to his doctrine, that we should struggle to make our actions remind others of Jesus and his most lovable personality. We have to act in such a way that others will be able to say, when they meet us: This man is a Christian, because he does not hate, because he is willing to understand, because he is not a fanatic, because he is willing to make sacrifices, because he shows that he is a man of peace, because he knows how to love.
Perhaps, in many cases, today’s world does not await anything at all. Or it waits facing in a direction from which nobody will come. Many people have thrown themselves heart and soul into possessing material things as if these were their last end. But their hearts will never be satisfied with these things. We have to show the way to such people and to everyone.
You know, says St Augustine, what each one of you must do in his own home, with his friend, his neighbour, his servant, his superior, his subordinate. You also know the way in which God provides the opportunity, and the way He opens the door with his word. Do not be content, then, to live at peace with yourselves until you have won them all for Christ, for you have been won for Christ.
Our family, friends, workmates, those people we come in contact with frequently, should be the first to benefit from our love for God. With our example and our prayer we should reach even people we do not have the chance to talk to.
Our great joy will be that of having brought to Jesus, as John the Baptist did, many who were far away or indifferent. We should never forget that it is God’s grace, and not our human strength, that can move souls towards Jesus. As nobody can give what he does not have, the effort to grow in our interior life becomes more urgent, so that all those we meet and pass on the road can be infected by our superabundant love for God.
The Queen of Apostles will increase our longing and our effort to bring souls to her Son in the certainty that no effort is in vain in the sight of God.
 St J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 122
 St Augustine, Treatise on St John’s Gospel, 10,9
Rev. Francis Fernandez-Carvajal
Rev. Francis Fernández-Carvajal is a Priest of the Opus Dei Prelature and the author of many popular spiritual works. His seven-volume series In Conversation with God provides over 500 meditations to be used throughout the liturgical year. It has sold over 2 million copies and has been translated into many languages.