Christmas Homilies

Saturday after Epiphany

Today’s readings

“He must increase; I must decrease.”
By these words, St. John the Baptist indicates that the Epiphany, the manifestation of our Lord in the flesh, is complete. John’s disciples have got it wrong; they took offense at Jesus baptizing when he himself had been baptized by John. They assumed that because John had baptized Jesus, that Jesus must in some way be inferior to John. But John knows his mission as the Forerunner. He knows that his ministry was one of paving the way for Jesus and the Gospel. He knows that his own baptism was a mere precursor of the baptism that Jesus would bring, a baptism that imparts the fullness of the Holy Spirit to all believers.
“He must increase; I must decrease.”
St. John the Evangelist tells us in his letters that we are to be on guard against those who come in the name of Jesus but are not of him. We must be wary of pretenders and totally turn away from false idols. He has spent this past week in our first readings giving us the standards of discernment that help us to know the Truth. Anyone of the Truth will testify to the Incarnation of Jesus in the flesh. Anyone of the Truth will love deeply, and will love neighbors as well as God. Anyone of the Truth, he tells us today, will cast out sin, from himself and from others. Even though he may not be perfect, still he will battle sin and turn to Christ incarnate in the flesh for the indwelling of the Spirit, for the grace of his baptism.
“He must increase; I must decrease.”
Christ came in the flesh, as the Psalmist tells us today, because the Lord takes delight in his people. His people then, must take delight in him. We must remember that we are all in the service of the one who came to set us free. We must remember that our own thoughts, our own desires, all of these are not the be-all and end-all of existence, and quite often, we must die to them in order to let God be manifested among us. As we offer and prepare our gifts for the Eucharist today, may we also offer the decreasing of ourselves in order to pave the way for the increasing of Jesus Christ.