View all Gospel Reflections |
What’s My Motto?
Saturday after Epiphany
After this, 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me in this moment of prayer, that you wish to be with me and you have graces that you are waiting to offer me. I trust in your faithfulness and open my heart to you. I love you, Lord. teach me to love you more! Holy Spirit, come and work in my heart in this time of prayer and in this day.
- New Grace: Here, John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, spoke as the bridge between the Old and New Covenants. He brought his interlocutors from the external ceremonial signs of the Old Covenant to the interior and effective sacraments of the New Covenant—namely, the efficacy of sanctifying grace. It is no longer about the external actions alone, he was telling us. Now there is a grace, a gratuitous gift of the indwelling of God, freely given, which makes those external actions effective. “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.” And how much God wishes to give himself! We see in the Trinity itself that this is who God is: Giver. God wishes to give himself to us if we will open our hearts and minds to his presence.
- New Wedding Feast: As his mission drew to a close, John stepped out of the limelight so that the very one prefigured could reveal himself. In fact, he even sent his best disciples to follow Christ. “Behold the Lamb of God,” he said to John and Andrew (John 1:29). The image the Baptist chose was striking: Christ is the Bridegroom; John was just the best man—close to the groom, preparing everything for the wedding, but not the groom, the true Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. In these verses, John’s humility was on display. How edified we are to realize that the greatest man born of a woman (Matthew 11:11) was so very humble.
- New Light: Not long after John preached these words, he was murdered by King Herod. But like a seed that falls to the ground and dies, he bore such great fruit that his story did not end in death. John taught us that even if living our vocation and mission in life leads through perplexing and even painful moments, God is always capable of bringing a greater light from the shadows. John had unwavering confidence in God and we, too, are called to trust God, even when the shadows in our life obscure the light.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, your grace is real and effective, present and active in my life. I want to be receptive and open to your plan, as St. John the Baptist was. As I reflect on my life, are there any aspects today where you are inviting me to be open to grace? Open my heart. Grant me the humility to accept from you even what I don’t understand. I trust that if I keep my eyes on you and follow you, you will let your light shine through me.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will try not to talk about myself to others or make myself the center of attention. I will try to let Christ increase and my pride decrease.
For Further Reflection: We could say that “He must increase, I must decrease” was the motto of John the Baptist’s life. What do I want to be the motto of my life?
Beth Van de Voorde is a Regnum Christi Consecrated Woman, currently serving in pastoral ministry to families in Madrid, Spain. When she’s not reading Ratzinger or humming along to some song or another, you may find her making her pilgrim way through Spain’s timeless history of faith, walking alongside the beautiful families she’s there to serve.