Memorial of Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishops and doctors of the Church
(I John 2:22-28; John 1: 19-28)
Some paintings of the crucifixion include John the Baptist. “What is he doing there?” we might ask, “Wasn’t he killed before Jesus?” Of course, he was. But he is pictured at the cross where his prophecy, made at the beginning of John’s gospel, is realized. Jesus is the Lamb of God whose sacrifice redeems the world. By all right he should increase all others must decrease in comparison to him.
Today’s gospel forms the first part of that prophecy. Little is said here of John baptizing. John, the evangelist, is not interested in Baptism here, but in the Baptist’s testimony. In the first century some considered John the long-awaited Messiah. The evangelist makes it clear that he is not and that Jesus is greater than he.
People like to exaggerate their own importance. They talk about their accomplishments or use their money to attract notice. John the Baptist’s testimony helps us to know better. As great as he was, he recognizes Jesus as greater. Jesus, not ourselves, is the one who deserves everyone’s attention and honor.