The Wisdom of Sacrifice

John 3: 22-30
1 Jn 5: 21 / Ps 149:1-6,9

…my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
(John 3:30)

It’s not for gain or fame we serve,
Or others that we aim to please;
God’s graces will be well-deserved
If we decrease and Christ increased.

After this Jesus and His disciples went into the Judean countryside, and He spent some time there with them and baptized. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized — John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison. Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him.” John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3: 22-30)

Reflection

When Jesus and His disciples came to the region of Judea, and began baptizing the people who came to Him, the disciples of John the Baptist complained to him that ‘the one to whom you testified is (also) baptizing and everyone is going to Him” (John 3:26). So envious were they of Jesus’ popularity that they would not even mention His name. But St. John’s response revealed his humble character: “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven.” (3:27) He pointed out to them that Jesus’ authority came directly from God. For his part, he did not give himself any importance just because he came before Jesus did. Instead, he emphasized total submission to Jesus, saying, “He must increase; I must decrease.”

The attitude of John the Baptist is something most worthy of emulation. Even as his prominence was being eclipsed, he felt no sense of anger or regret in accepting the inevitability of his ministry’s end. He simply saw it as the fulfillment of his life’s purpose. I recall a similar situation many years ago when our group of running enthusiasts formed the “Davao Road Runners Club” to promote running as a cardiovascular exercise, as well as support our city’s young athletes. One day, a few of our members complained that some doctors had also formed their own group, called the “Davao Sunday Runners”. Our club president then, who is also a doctor, called a meeting to decide whether to compete with this new group, or to merge with it, and in the process dissolving our own club which was already organizing road races at the time. Although we loved our club, we agreed that it would be for the best interest of the sport and our campaign for physical fitness if we sacrificed our club and joined the latter in order to develop its membership. Twenty-six years have passed since then, and the Davao Sunday Runners Club, Inc. is now considered the foremost organizer of road races not only in Davao but in other cities as well. And the close camaraderie that we now enjoy proved the wisdom of our sacrifice.

One who has a sense of destiny disregards self-importance for the goal of a greater good. Let us honor John the Baptist as our model of humility and Christian service.

Thank You, Father God, for filling our hearts with the joy of serving our Lord Jesus Christ, and for giving us St. John the Baptist as Your example of true servanthood. May his inspiration lead us to greater heights of service in Your kingdom. Amen.

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