We should train ourselves by prayer and discipline so we can say what John said about Jesus, "He must increase, while I must decrease."

Saturday, 1/12/13

Speaking of Jesus, John the Baptist said, “He must increase, while I must decrease.” With John being the most popular man in his country and in his century, it was amazing that he could say, “He must increase, while I must decrease.”

It was England’s Nineteenth Century statesman Lord Acton who made the famous statement, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To that he added, “Great men are almost always bad men.”

St. John in that story puts me in mind of something I was involved in back in 1962. I had been a pastor in Korea for seven years, when I took the bus into the capitol, and joined in a late evening conversation of six young priests newly arrived there. I was telling them some of the things I had learned while working in Korea for seven years when they were still back in school. I had the idea that the knowledge I had amassed would be of help to them, when suddenly one of them, Father Bob Sweeney, stood up, and put a question to me. He asked, “Who are you, God?”

That was no way to talk to a well-meaning priest like me, but I often think back on it. Who am I to strut around, telling people what to do? A heart attack or a car running a red light could finish me off any minute, and I lose all control of my life in my hours of sleep. Who am I?

Each of us would do well to take up the disciplined prayer life that enabled John the Baptist to say, “He must increase, while I must decrease.” 

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