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John testifies about Jesus

reflections

 

Gospel reading: Jn 3:22-30

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.”

 

He must increase; I must decrease

Whose baptism is greater, John’s baptism of repentance or Jesus’ baptism in the Spirit? The answer is clear to John; he gives way to Je­sus: “He must increase; I must de­crease.” John the Baptist considers himself as the bridegroom (Hebrew shoshben). The role of the bride­groom according to Jewish custom is to arrange all the preparations for the wedding. After making cer­tain that the bride and the groom are happily married, with joy the groom’s best man’s job is complete and now he has to fade away.

In the light of the Old Testament imagery, the marriage between God and Israel is now fulfilled – Je­sus is the messianic groom, and the person of Israel is the bride (cf Is 61:10). Likewise, in the New Testa­ment the entire Church celebrates the marriage of the Lamb, the union of the Messiah with the com­munity of the elect (cf Rv 19:7).

The preparation and formation of the Christian community as the bride of Christ should be at the forefront of every disciple and mis­sionary. Sectarian conflict has to be avoided, because we all belong to Christ.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

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