Saturday after Epiphany

Lectionary: 217

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.

Somewhere in college, as I admired the lovely coeds all around me, as I sometimes listened to their praises and their complaints about their boyfriends, I realized that my vocation was to be the cheerleader on the sidelines of marriage. Or, as Saint John says, "the best man."

Always, “He must increase; I must decrease.” This is the Christian’s vocation: to carry Christ to others; to point him out, “There is the Lamb of God.” I might be “the only bible he will ever read” but I am not the Word of God.

We must continually say to others and to ourselves, “I am not the Christ. I am not worthy to untie the straps of his sandals.”

Historically, we can suppose, John might have been a rival to Jesus. Clearly, he had established a ministry in the Jordan Valley before Jesus began his. He had crowds of disciples and many admirers who thought he might be the long-awaited messiah. It would have been easy for him to claim the title and crush the incipient ministry of Jesus, especially because Jesus never claimed the title for himself.

Instead, the Baptist stepped down as he declared, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

Whether we are clergy or laity, influential or powerless, educated or illiterate, we must always direct others to the Bridegroom who is Christ.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.