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Friday, June 24, 2016

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Birth of St. John the Baptizer

Isaiah 49:1-6
Acts 13:22-26
Psalm 139:1-3, 13-15
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 John up to heaven, and we celebrate his birthday even to the present day. Decide to decrease.

Prayer:  Jesus, shine Your light through me so that many will turn to You and receive Your saving love.

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:  St. John the Baptizer went "before the Lord to prepare straight paths for Him, giving His people a knowledge of salvation, in freedom from their sins" (Lk 1:76-77).

Reference:  (Grow in your understanding of Baptism and all the sacraments at our Discipleship Center's retreat on the Sacraments July 18-20. Wisdom, understanding and grace are gifts from the Holy Spirit given through the sacraments. Call 513-373-2397 to register.)

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 20, 2016

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