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: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.