Saturday, April 03, 2004
He must increase, but I must decrease  

These words from St. John the Baptist in John 3:30 echo the theme of Lent and indeed of the whole Christian life. John the Baptist stood at the pinnacle of the prophets of the Old Testament. He is Elijah who came to "turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6). John is the last in a line of prophets who have been exhorting the children of Israel to return to God.

The children of Israel had been awaiting the Messiah for hundreds of years. In fact, they had been waiting for a prophet of God since Malachi who preceded John by several centuries. When John appears in the wilderness near the Jordan River, the people recognize that the time of the Messiah has come. Isaiah had written that the consolation of Israel would begin with a voice crying out in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (40:3).

Even as this great herald of the Messiah, indeed the friend of the Bridegroom, John knew that he must always give way to the one he announced. He did not consider himself worthy to do the work of a slave of the Messiah by untying the thong of His sandals (Luke 3:16). That is why he said that Jesus must increase, but he must decrease. An obvious lesson of the spiritual life, but one that perhaps we often ignore is this very message that we strive for Christ to increase in every part of us. As Father Groeschel mentions in his reflection today citing the words of St. Catherine of Sienna, "She said that the Lord revealed to her that she was nothing and that He was everything."

The Church has been calling us during these forty days of Lent to prepare our hearts for the mysteries of Holy Week. May we continue to prepare by giving more room to Christ in our hearts in order that our Everything might replace our nothing.

Posted by David at 8:13 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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