When reading the Gospel today, it's important to understand the context of Saint John the Baptist's words. It is sometime after the priests and Levites questioned him about who he was. Remember, at that point Saint John had denied being the Messiah or Elijah. Instead he said,
I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. (John 1:26)
But it is of course sometime before Saint John's own imprisonment and ultimately, his death by beheading. In this moment, how beautiful are his words! Let’s read them again, slowly:
He [Christ] who has the bride [all of us, the Church] is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom [John himself] who stands and hears him [Christ] rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3: 29-30)
In a moment of pure abandonment, Saint John exemplifies what true Christianity really means. He never was the Christ and never said he was. Now it is time for his disciples to come and see who the Messiah really is. It is time for Saint John to decrease, even to the point of death, so that the Lord might increase in the lives of the faithful.
Do we desire to live as John did? When we fall into bed at night do we hope at the very core of our being that He will be a little more in us and we a little less? Can we . . .
. . . let go of a beloved project into which we've poured our hearts but that needs room to grow beyond us?
. . . allow a developing child the independence for which they are longing?
. . . rid our minds of thoughts that demand attention and praise for ourselves when we do not need it?
Saint John reminds us of what is at the center of our lives: A Savior who seeks to increase in our lives to such a dramatic extent that we lose the ability to worry about ourselves and our condition. What a tremendous relief that would be! And how scary, too!
The Missionaries of Charity prays a Litany of Humility that was referenced here on BIS awhile back and that singer Danielle Rose once put to music. Let's pray it again today, for ourselves and for each other, that we, like him, might rejoice without fear in Christ's growing presence in our lives. Amen.
Karen Schultz is a Birth Doula hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, where she is often found in or near one of them. You can find out more about her here.