After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized —John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 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 all are going to him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’
He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
“He must increase; I must decrease.” This statement goes against so much in our culture. From a young age we are taught through the media and other sources that we must strive to be powerful and influential people. Money, authority, recognition, and political power are to be desired and sought while focusing on ourselves and “getting ahead.” An emphasis on winning every competition, climbing the ladder of success, and obtaining what “we deserve” colors our way of interacting with people and the world.
John the Baptist goes against our cultural norm. Instead of being concerned about people following him, he directs others to Jesus. He realizes his proper place: he is not the Christ, the savior, but someone who leads others to Jesus. His thoughts and actions are for the Kingdom of God and he realizes that Jesus is the only way to accomplish this goal. How different things would have been if John had fought to “win” converts away from Jesus or if John had worked to become a political and powerful leader. How different the story of Christianity could have been.
We must ask ourselves if we allow our culture to direct and guide our thoughts and actions or do we work for the Kingdom of God? Do we do what we think is best for ourselves and our reputation or are we willing to do what is right no matter what people think? Do I put myself and my desires first or do I focus all my thoughts and actions on Jesus? Are you willing to lovingly lead everyone you encounter to Jesus?
—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., is provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.
Lord, as a follower I am called to be another Christ. Therefore I must empty myself of me to make room for you. Woe to me if my brothers and sisters come to me seeking you and find only me.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!