Saturday, January 12, 2013

He must increase; I must decrease.

In today’s Gospel, St. John the Baptist says of his cousin Jesus:
He must increase; I must decrease.
– John 3:30

This quotation is part of why it is fitting that the feast of the Nativity of St. John falls near the summer solstice, when the span of the day begins decreasing–a sort of calendrical counterpoint to the feast of Christmas near the winter solstice. (The dating of that feast, however, has more to do with attempting to reconcile the accounts of the dates of the pregnancies of Elizabeth and Mary in the New Testament than with some ancient conspiracy to supplant pagan solstice celebrations, in case you were wondering.)

Although it is certainly correct that the influence of John and his followers was meant by Providence to wane as the public ministry of Jesus began to wax, this sentiment is one of much broader applicability. In our own spiritual practice, we must strive, as St. Paul teaches, to put on Christ, to die to ourselves that Christ may live in us. It’s as good a mantra as any other, as you go through your day:

He must increase; I must decrease.

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