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Wednesday, June 24, 1998

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Birthday of
St. John the Baptizer

Isaiah 49:1-6
Acts 13:22-26
Psalm 139
Luke 1:57-66, 80

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decreasing returns

"What will this child be?" —Luke 1:66

St. Augustine noted that we celebrate John the Baptizer's birthday after the summer equinox, when daylight begins to lessen in the northern hemisphere, and we celebrate Jesus' birthday after the winter equinox, when daylight begins to increase. St. Augustine connected this with John's statement regarding Jesus: "He must increase, while I must decrease" (Jn 3:30).

Today, may there be more of Jesus in your life and less of you. May you continue this pattern each day until you can truthfully say: "It is no longer I that live but Christ Who lives within me" (Gal 2:20, our transl). Paradoxically, as you decrease and lose your life (Lk 9:24) and are consumed by the fire of God (Heb 12:29), you will not be obliterated (see Ex 3:2). Rather, you will discover who you really are (Mt 10:39). After you "throw away" your life for the Lord (see Is 49:4), the Lord "will make you a light to the nations" so that His "salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Is 49:6). When John decreased by directing his disciples away from himself and pointing them to Jesus (see Acts 13:25), the Lord lifted him up to heaven, and we celebrate his birthday even to the present day. Decide to decrease.

Prayer:  Jesus, increase so that at Your "name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!" (Phil 2:10-11)

Promise:  "At that moment his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God." —Lk 1:64

Praise:  "There was a man named John sent by God, who came as a witness to testify to the Light" (Jn 1:6-7).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, November 29, 1997

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 2, 1997