Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”
John invites us to establish a relationship of friendship with Jesus, by orienting his disciples towards Jesus. In this friendship, joy will play an important and central role, the joy of the other, the joy of our friend. A friend always seeks complete joy for the other, and in the joy of the other we rejoice. We are invited to discover the joy of our friend, the friend in Jesus Christ. He himself prayed that we would have joy and that it would be complete. He has called us 'Friends'. Thus every Christian life is a love story.
In a very good friendship we discover each other and in this discovery we rejoice. The life of faith is a life of discovery of God and his love, that is to say, a life of love. Thus our Christian life becomes a life of witness and thanksgiving, with great gratitude and appreciation for this generous divine love. To make our friend grow in us and in everything is already a path of happiness that believers feel all their life.
All the martyrs of the Lord's Church have experienced this joy. The martyrs of Barbastro, (the Claretian martyrs, the young seminarians of Spain) sang with joy on their way to death. Are we able to stand back and feel the presence of God in our daily lives and live our faith fully in joy? " He must increase; I must decrease.”
Action of the day: Give the right space to God in your personal life.
“He must increase; I must decrease.”
Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench
(Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)
Today, we are surprised to see both Jesus and John baptizing "side by side". We say "side by side", although… actually, this is only in appearance, because John the Baptist refers us to Jesus, who is the Messiah, the "new Moses", the long-awaited Prophet, he who comes over to bring God to us. “What has He [Jesus] brought? The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God” (Benedict XVI).
Consequently, and immediately, John spells out the substance of baptism: in fact, it is purification, but «it differs from the customary religious ablutions» performed those days, and -as Pope Benedict asserted- «it must be the material culmination of a change determining a new way of life forever and ever». Therefore the Christian baptism stands for a radical change under the figure of a new birth. A new beginning in life.
Purification, definitely, but to put off the "old man", to die oneself and -because of God's Grace- be born to a new life altogether: the divine life, something that « “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven” (Jn 3,27). The second council of Orange teaches us that “it is wholly a gift of God to love God. He, who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him”.
Hence, our long-life task for sanctity: to grow deep in humility, open up God's will for us and let Him guide us. It is not as important what I can do as it is that He leads me: “He must increase; I must decrease.” (Jn 3,30). And the fuller our joy will grow as the more immaterial I turn into and the Spouse becomes closer to our heart and to our deeds.