|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Joy of the Gospel
There once was a young American woman, who went to Japan to teach English. After being on the road in Japan only 15 minutes she got lost trying to read the Japanese signpost and she rear-ended a car driven by a pregnant Japanese woman. The young Japanese woman was sent by ambulance to the hospital. There was just a lot of chaos at the scene of the accident. When the American woman got back to her apartment that night, she was worried endlessly and did not sleep all night. She was most worried about the young pregnant Japanese woman.
The next day, she received a message from the young Japanese woman, telling her that she was okay and her child was okay. She would not accept any money for the damage done to the car and that she was worried about her, the American woman, during her first few minutes in her country; she must have been terrified and must have felt terribly alone. She assured her with peace and good wishes. The American woman was relieved but she was also shocked. She could not believe that this woman was so readily forgiving. Yet she felt at peace again.
Almost three months to the day, the little-more seasoned English teacher was driving down a road when a Japanese fisherman hit the side of her car and did a huge amount of damage. He got out of the car all flustered and apologized profusely telling her that he would take care of everything. The young American woman said, “No; there is no need for anything.” She explained what had happened to her in the first incident and that it would change things if she did not pass on the forgiveness she had received. The old Japanese man went away happy and at peace. She just asked him to pass it on. Life is a bit like that. Forgiveness is very much like that.
The Pharisees and the Scribes in today’s Gospel wanted to know who was John the Baptist. He said, “Look at what I do and look at the one I am pointing to.”
What would people say of us? Who are we? For what are we known? What will our actions tell? Will we be like that young Japanese pregnant woman who was so willing to forgive a foreigner in her land? Are we going to be known for something? Are we going to witness and testify to Christ?
Our actions define us. It is not just our words but our actions, what we do and what we say will define who we are. In that sense “whose are we” is really more important than “who are we.” Do we belong to Christ or do we not?
Today’s scripture weaves a thread of joy from the Gospel; of thanksgiving and glad tidings. We were meant to be people who spread the word to others with joy through our actions. In the busyness of the Christmas Season, the chaos, as we start to prepare for Christmas, go to parties, buy gifts! It is important to find a way to be full of joy and witness to Christ.