A reading from the gospel according to John 3:22-30:
22 Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing.
23 John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized,
24 for John had not yet been imprisoned.
25 Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings.
26 So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
27 John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
28 You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him.
29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete.
30 He must increase; I must decrease.”
Reflection: Humility and Jealousy
Humility is a very rare commodity especially in this age of intense competition in a dog-eat-dog world. For some people, life is a game where you either win or lose. You have to defeat everyone in order to get that Olympic gold medal. Worse, some people do not want to give up playing this kind of game and this is visible everywhere especially in politics. It is all competition, not cooperation.
In the gospel reading above, we see John the Baptist slowly fading in popularity while that of Jesus started to zoom up. John knew his mission was to testify to the light and it was very clear to him that he was not the Light. When the true Light started to shine, John accepted with joy the completion of his mission. Not so with his followers. Some of them refused to acknowledge the arrival of the Messiah and they were contented with the way things were going with John the Baptist. They were perhaps feeling jealous that the crowd around Jesus was getting larger by the day. John needed to patiently explain to them that his time to decrease had come.
There is indeed a time for everything, a time for every activity under heaven as scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 3. We need to be humble in order to accept the reality that there is a time to shine and a time to fade away. There is a moment of glory and a moment to give way to others. John the Baptist has shown us the way to do it.
In every organization including the church as an institution, leaders must never think that they are entitled to their position for a life-time. They must train upcoming leaders instead of being jealous of them. They must know when to pass on the baton and when that time comes, they must be willing to step down with joy.