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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Martyrdom of John the Baptist

"He must increase, I must decrease." Jn 3:30

Readers of John's gospel cannot help but wonder whether John the Baptist understood fully the import of his words about decreasing so the Christ could increase. Did he know he would die for the sake of the gospel? Surely he had enough time in prison to know that his prospects for a full life with Christ were small, and the evangelists remind us that it was John the Baptist's death that pushed Jesus to begin his public ministry.

When we are young and distant from the reality of our own death, it can be easy to make promises the depth of which we cannot really appreciate, but when we grow older, we know. If we are going to live the gospel with integrity there will be a price. The Good News might be good but it is not easy.

Living simply, avoiding wealth and power of a kind that fools us into believing we are in control of our own lives and futures is a great challenge. So many of us, sounding other centered, tell everyone that we are willing to endure whatever a gospel life brings, but we do not want to be a burden to others. How shallow these words can be upon reflection.  Allowing others to care for us as we would for them is essential to a fully human and gospel life. Not taking that care for granted is also important, but life must be accepted no matter what it brings.

Today, decrease so Christ can increase.

How do you manage the daily diminishment that comes to us all?


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